Listening is a very under taught skill by almost every teacher. It really should be a focus and is such an important part of language learning. I’ve written a popular post offering a lot of suggestions on how to do this – however I can’t think of anything easier than using EnglishCentral‘s “hidden challenge” function.
With the new player (it isn’t out yet, you are getting a sneak peak!), you can make a listening cloze easily and simply. The words and blanks are very clear. Play several times and students write down the words missing. (the teacher should just copy and paste the transcript from the main video detail page to get the answers). Check afterwards by deselecting the hidden challenge from the top of the player.
That’s it, simple as pie and with the great variety of videos on EnglishCentral, an instant lesson and sure to be instant hit with your students. They can even “speak” the videos afterwards. Either at home or at school.
In it, you listen to the 1st Article of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man spoken in a foreign language. Then you guess and see how you did. It’s quite the challenge! There are different versions based on length.
This week, EnglishCentral released their “Listen In” feature. Now, not only can students “speak” youtube videos, teachers can also listen in and provide assessment and feedback to their students.
I’m not going to outline how to access this. Just register as a teacher, sign up students and then find this on your Teacher Tools reports page. Go here – EnglishCentral has already described it in detail. However, I do think this is just “crazy” and I’d like to outline how teachers might use this feature in their teaching. I can suggest 3 main ways.
1. As a way of verifying that students are actually practicing and doing their assignments. Lets face it, part of the difficulty about online learning is the “accountability problem”. Too often with tech, teachers won’t use it because they think students can scam the system and are just playing computer games while online. The listen in feature provides both teachers and students with accountability – between themselves and too other stakeholders like parents and school administrators. So I think schools and teachers will love this feature.
2. As part of an assignment. Production is crucial for language development (Swain 2004). As an end product, the “listen in” feature allows teachers to assign a video and provide feedback to the student on their speech, as part of the assignment. It makes it a complete learning cycle.
3. Assessment, pure and simple. This comes immediately to mind as the crucial way the tool can be used. It can be both a formative (ongoing) or summative tool. Even use it as a way of leveling students (but not exclusively) at the beginning of your school year. Or sit one on one with students and review their speech, their errors, along with understanding of the video. Their speech is highlighted with feedback “marks” for both teacher and student to see.
This beta feature will only get better. Along with the new pronunciation reports that immediately tell you how your students are doing and where they need help – this just makes EnglishCentral even more cutting edge than it already was.
In ending, all I can say is “This is Crrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaazy”.
I’m a big fan of always exciting students with “possibility”. By that I mean, designing a lesson so that they can change and interact with the content in creative, personal ways. They can be touched by possibility – much like we are when online and using Web 2.0 tools.
One easy way to do this is to use music/song. A “change the lyrics” activity.
Basically there are 3 steps involved.
1. Teach the song in any way you see fit. It could be the typical listening cloze, Lastonestanding, karaoke or many other ways.
2. Have prepared on the board the chorus or one main part of the song. In front of the students rub out some main content words. Ask students to put in their own words for the song. Have fun!
3. Challenge students to do the same and then share.
Here are two already prepared examples. The first, very simple for the gospel classic, “This little light of mine”. The second more lengthy for “What a wonderful World”.
Whatever you do, have fun adapting a song – I know your students will!
There are some great Youtube videos out there which are “interactive”. Meaning, students can watch the storyline and then are asked to make decisions and continue with the story. They really keep the students’ attention. A very strong prediction viewing type activity.
By far , the best IMHO is The Treasure Hunt – with Chad, Matt and Rob. Really interesting story for language learning (but suited for adults, young adults). Here’s another example – “choose a different ending“.
Let us know how your students liked these. You’ll need high bandwidth to stream this in class…. Also find here on EFL Classroom 2.0 – Guess the Ending videos.Here andHere.
It doesn’t have a lot of “flash” but it has an abundance of semi authentic materials with audio and extra vocabulary study. Excellent stuff that will interest students. Just choose a category and find audio / video and text. Students can return there after class for more practice. While the vocabulary study is just a mish mash of stuff, it does help. Note – this site is designed for adult learners.
I can see teachers copying the script and using this in class to design materials along with the great audio that supports it. You could even have students present an article every day and then design discussion activities for each.
A wonderful resource and along with USA Learns, the other American resource site for adult learners – makes me want to sing, “God Bless America”!
Listening is one of the most overlooked skills, especially in the initial stages / levels of language learning. (see my blog post here about this and download the activities ebook).
Using authentic listening materials combined with the 5 Ws, really makes a great multi level approach. Best used with news reports and I especially like the old “Newsround” of BBC. (here’s the current version) Get many that I’ve saved HERE on EFL Classroom 2.0 for download. They really work because they aren’t so serious in nature and also the reporters are real teens!
There are generally 3 stages to this listening activity.
1. Play the excerpt in full and students note the headline/topic. (give a choice for lower levels).
2. Play the excerpt again and stop before each news item. Ask the students in groups/pairs to ask and answer the 5 Ws for that report. Take up as you go.
3. Play the full program again. Check for comprehension. Get the Ss to make their own news report along the same lines – 5 quick items.
I find them haunting. So well done, so real. I kind of think I’m right there in the screen or like that Woody Allen movie, “The Purple Rose of Cairo”, the people on the screen will come right off and start “living” with me.
I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did – but most importantly, made a cool “watching” activity to go with it. Watch and keep replaying the different scenes for each “Word”. Check which words were “associated”.
Find a nice associated podcast from NPR about “Words” here.
It could be a good listening activity for students (it provides repetition) and also a way to discuss stereotypes.
Basically, you first guess who might be speaking (these aren’t the real people but it is fun to think about this and gets us thinking about stereotypes too). Then, guess where they are from. Check. 20 questions plus one practice question.
This is based a bit on the Language Accent Game. This game is enjoyable but I find only useful with adv. learners. Thus, my own attempt…. (I’ll be tinkering with the game, changing, over the next few weeks as feedback is given).
There are a few constant questions I get from many people. One in particular is “So, what is the best place you’ve lived?” I’m always a bit puzzled by it and have to reply truthfully, “Anywhere there are good people”.
You see, teaching and also travel, is all about “people”. At least that’s what I’ve come to realize. The blessing of community and meeting a few others that really make you feel alive and wonderful, make you feel “true”. It’s not about a perfect paradise, a location, mountains or 350 days a year sunshine. It isn’t about the next toy, no pollution or clean streets. It is about people. That’s what interests me anyways and what I’ve learned in my few short years on this planet teaching and meeting so many people. And even in the seemingly most decrepit places, there are “good people”.
Project Interview by the “infamous” David Lynch is superb. Short interviews with “real people” as he and his team drive across America. Follow them on their map and get engrossed by these wonderful interviews. Not one fails – or didn’t with me.
I don’t know how you’d use it in class but it really offers some perfect authentic listening material. With this sparkling interview of Tommy Holliday – you might get the students to write his life timeline. In any case, you’ll be fascinated and addicted to these amazing interviews. Thanks David!
Listening is a very overlooked skill in our classrooms. It is as vital (or even more so!) in the beginning as speaking and we should treat it so. But too often, it is the poor cousin. No more! Here are the major listening activities grouped by type. I’ve provided a lot of links to possible audio sources as well as a printable appendix with example activities.
Remember though, nothing is written in stone. Be creative and use the general idea I’ve provided with some audio or twist that your own students will enjoy. That’s the secret – tailor make it…. See this below on the new DoxTop – a great online publishing place….Check this out too.