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    • #3828
      Manuel Flores Lasarte
      Moderator
          @manuel

          Choose one idea (e.g. a technique, activity, strategy, etc.) that you would like to try out with a group you currently teach. Justify your selection with reference to your target group (e.g. their needs, interests, learning preferences, the learning context, course type, etc.). Also refer to your learning from this unit.

        • #50639
          Robert Dailey
          Participant
              @robertd

              a)     Choose one idea (e.g. a technique, activity, strategy, etc.) that you would like to try out with a group you currently teach.

              One technique that I am going to try out (on Monday) is dictation from a text.

              b)     Justify your selection with reference to your target group (e.g. their needs, interests, learning preferences, the learning context, course type, etc.). Also refer to your learning from this unit.

              ·       The target group is a C1 level class of young professionals working at a Vfx company in Madrid.

              ·       The needs of the individuals are varied: one works in HR, another in production etc. All the students need English in part because the company works with important companies in the USA and the student that works in HR travels to recruitment fairs throughout the world where the lingua franca is English. So the students are not taking exams and they need English for work, social, and “it´s just good to have it” reasons.

              ·       Their interests are varied too. Two of the students draws cartoons in their spare time, another loves Italian food and travels often to the coast to visit her family … I would say that all the students are open-minded and are receptive to new ideas.

              ·       With regard to learner preferences, one prefers grammar, another to focus on pronunciation … I think that it is important to generally keep the students engaged, motivated and interested (as with every class) and so I try to plan the classes in accordance with their needs. The maxim that “variety is the spice of life” generally functions well.

              ·       Regarding the course type – which is business and general English – I have a free hand about content. The approach that I take is quite “dogme” in the sense that I often respond to the questions and issues that arise in class and also use the approach that Underhill mentions in the context of pronunciation: Mistakes are the syllabus.

              The dictation that I am going to use is a short update from a BBC website about Iran sending drones to Russia.

              This class follows on from the previous one in which some vocabulary about conflict and warfare was introduced, itself based on the premise that this could be good to know as this is unfortunately a hot topic at the moment and so one that might come up in “small talk” before and/or after a meeting or conference.

              With reference to the learning from this unit, it says within it that dictation requires top-down and bottom-up processing. Prediction and discussion of the headline will activate schemata and require bottom-up processing while some items of lexis in the text, like “stirred huge outcry” will require bottom-up processing.

              During the unit one of the things we were asked to do was to reflect on an article by Ridgeway in which he laid out the argument that practice makes perfect in terms of listening. Field, in response, said that instead of this we should be teaching our students listening (sub) skills.

              I agree with Field and the dictation that I will do with the students on Monday will provide an opportunity to discuss listening (sub) skills and strategies with them and in this way to perhaps also place more emphasis on teaching rather than testing in the class.

              Finally, the dictation will offer multiple opportunities to “mine” the text (in a similar was that Harmer and Thornbury highlight the advantages of “analytical reading” in that context) and I will ask the students to, for example. listen out for the schwa: a phoneme that both fascinates and perturb my Spanish students. This task will require bottom-up processing.

              • #50716
                Manuel Flores Lasarte
                Moderator
                    @manuel

                    Hi Robert,

                    Many thanks for getting this forum started. As you mention, dictation is a great way of focusing on both bottom-up and top-down processing: indeed, learners need to use their knowledge of the topic, contextual clues and expectations (top-down processing) to be able to identify the words and sounds that make up the text (bottom-up processing). For example, without knowing the topic or without contextual clues, learners would not be able to choose the correct spelling for any homophones included in the text (i.e. words that are pronounced the same but have different spellings such as ‘bare’ or ‘bear’) or would struggle to identify the correct tense in utterances such as ‘they stop/stopped the mission’.

                    For this reason, choosing a text with vocabulary and topic known to learners as you have done here can be very helpful. It not only increases the chances of successfully comprehending a text, thus motivating learners, but also allows for a clear focus on teaching listening, rather than testing it. Following Siegel’s (2014) techniques for teaching L2 listening, you can make students aware of the metacognitive listening strategies that they have used to understand the text (e.g. predicting about the content), explain what listeners do to identify the correct form of the word in a text through teacher modelling and telling learners how they can use what they have learned in class in future listening situations.

                    Dictation is definitely worth trying and there are many ways you can do it: from dictogloss to students dictating words/phrases to their partners. If you want to find out more about dictation, I recommend this page from the British Council.

                    And now that it’s already Monday, Rob: how did it go? Will you use dictation in the future? Will you make any changes to your lesson procedure? We look forward to reading how it went! :)

                    Manuel

                    References: Siegel, J. (2014). ‘Exploring L2 listening instruction: examinations of practice’ ELT Journal Volume 68/1, OUP.

                  • #50730
                    Robert Dailey
                    Participant
                        @robertd

                        Hi Manuel,

                        Thanks for the message and the links. There were useful tips in the short article about dictation and I really like the idea of the students using the teacher as a “human tape recorder”: changing his/her speed, rewinding him/her as they require.

                        In the end I didn´t do the dictation with the group yesterday (as what I thought would be a fairly quick review activity at the beginning of the class ending up taking all of it) but I´ll do it with them next week. I´ll let you know how it goes!

                        Robert

                         

                         

                    • #50678
                      Erica
                      Participant
                          @erica

                          Choose one idea (e.g. a technique, activity, strategy, etc.) that you would like to try out with a group you currently teach. Justify your selection with reference to your target group (e.g. their needs, interests, learning preferences, the learning context, course type, etc.). Also refer to your learning from this unit.

                          I teach ESOL adult beginners; the group is multicultural and multilingual (Arabic, Brazilian, Spanish, Greek and so on). Some of them are in employment while others aren’t. They live here in London, and they all need English to improve their lives here (e.g. being able to speak with their children’s teacher, find a better paid job, etc.)

                          With this group I’d like to try out a mixture of bottom-up (micro listening) and top-down (predictions using pictures) approaches in the context of teaching functional language (can for requests and offers).

                          6 pictures with different scenarios (two people in each picture but in a different context, in a restaurant, at the shop, etc.). But using pictures and ask the students to predict the content of these short conversations I aim to use their real-life experience (they all live in London) and thus anticipate some key lexis. Explain that they are going to listen to only the first questions of each conversation and that they need to guess who will ask that question and how they will use Can (offer or request?) – kind of gist question. This should contextualise the upcoming recording (pre-recorded) and engage the students.

                          Unscramble-the-questions exercise helps them follow and construct the questions. This bottom-up activity can help the students to construct the questions word by word. By listening and writing at the same time I hope to tackle the difficulty they have in relating the sounds they hear to the words they refer to. During the feedback we could also discuss which words are stressed in the questions.

                          Predict what the other person in each picture will reply. Then offer the “answers” in the transcript in a mixed order and ask the students to pair them with the questions before listening to the audio. Prediction here may serve to show the students that sometimes there are not many possible answers to a question and that the context can also define the type of interaction (in a shop, A: Can I help you? C: Yes, please. Can you tell me about this TV? / How much is the TV?). Here also we could discuss stress and sounds.

                          Assign a couple of pictures to different pairs and ask them to come up with 2 more sentences to complete the conversations. Again, I rely on their schemata to help them use and “check” what they know. By writing the sentences down in pairs I also wish to keep tackling the word-sound issue.

                          By sharing and acting out some conversations in pairs the students can practise pronunciation and correct / help each other. For example, the Brazilians add “i” at the end of any word that ends in consonant, when they say the intrusive “i” their partner may say “stop” and thus force the speaker to focus on the written conversation and notice that there is no “i” sound. This may also encourage self-awareness and it may also improve their listening skills as more often than not they don’t recognise the word unless it has an “i” sound at the end.

                          I have always perceived and delivered listening skills in a rather mechanical way and the only “support” I gave to students was using a transcript and analysing the questions before the actual listening. Having realised that that was testing listening, I’ll focus more on teaching listening (sub)skills that can actually facilitate understanding.

                          • #50717
                            Manuel Flores Lasarte
                            Moderator
                                @manuel

                                Thank you Erica for your contribution here. You seem to have clearly understood the differences between testing and teaching listening and you provide an excellent example of how a listening lesson can be scaffolded to help learners develop their listening skills. Your great teaching techniques include:

                                • Using pictures for prediction tasks is a great way of activating schemata: learners can start imagining what the content of the listening will be about and you as a teacher can see what words your learners already know about the topic and what words need to be pre-taught.
                                • You also use this idea of script* mentioned in Anderson and Lynch’s book by asking learners to use their knowledge of the situations described in the conversations to guess who asks a particular question and what their intention is. You also use this to help learners predict the typical responses in the situations presented.
                                • You also include a very good way of helping learners recognise written words and how they are pronounced in connected speech by doing an unscramble-the-questions exercise.
                                • Finally, you incorporate this idea very well that listening and speaking should be developed together: you use the model of the listening to help learners develop their pronunciation skills.

                                So, how did it go? Let us know when you’ve tried it. Based on your experience, what should we consider when doing a similar lesson with elementary learners?

                                What about the other course participants? What listening technique/activity/ strategy would you like to try out with your learners? We look forward to reading your answers and commenting on your posts to continue developing our understanding of teaching listening.

                                 

                                *Note: “script describes a set of knowledge of probable sequences of events in familiar situations (…). For example, a ‘visiting the dentist’ script would contain the actors (patient, receptionist, dentist, nurse) and the events (waiting, examination, treatment)” (Anderson & Lynch 1988: 14)

                                References: Anderson, A. and Lynch, T. (1988). Listening, OUP.

                              • #50732
                                Robert Dailey
                                Participant
                                    @robertd

                                    Hi Erica,

                                    I really like the idea of using pictures with a listening task. For some reason I don´t normally do this (perhaps because I think I connected pictures more with reading and writing tasks than with listening for some reason) but I think it´s a really good idea. It´s also led me to think how I can use visuals more in my classes in general.

                                    Cheers,

                                    Robert

                                     

                                  • #50820
                                    Erica
                                    Participant
                                        @erica

                                        Hi Robert,

                                        I think that with higher levels (you teach C1) we may tend to underrate and forget about pictures while with lower levels (I teach A1) pictures are the first and most used resources!

                                        I also like your idea of using dictation (thanks for the articles, Manuel). I agree with what you and Manuel said about choosing a text with vocabulary and topic known to learners to facilitate the listening comprehension and the reconstruction of the dictated text. I may need to learn more about this activity before trying it out perhaps as part of summative assessment – use this activity to revise specific structures, vocabulary using a familiar topic towards the end of the course.

                                         

                                         

                                      • #50827
                                        Robert Dailey
                                        Participant
                                            @robertd

                                            Hi again Erica,

                                            Yes, I think that´s a really good idea: using dictation for revision. I can see that working very well.

                                             

                                             

                                             

                                          • #50977
                                            Gajinder Kaur
                                            Participant
                                                @gk

                                                I agree. I love pictures and as cliched as it sounds pictures are worth thousands of words. They can help you articulate. That’s what we as language teachers need to do most, help our learners articulate effectively.

                                            • #50867
                                              Aytaj Suleymanova
                                              Participant
                                                  @aytajs93

                                                  Hi everyone!

                                                  One technique that I really find interesting is creating a report form for the listening task where the students can take notes on the topic of the recording, the level of difficulty and then can summarize the contents.

                                                  My group of learners are a little different in terms of learning styles and preferences. Some students in the group are always eager to talk about what they have just read or heard and others are shy because their English is not as fluent.

                                                  Doing a report on the recording will give everyone a chance to participate and give feedback on the contents of the recording and add some comments. The weaker students can make notes of any phrases they hear so that later they can build the whole conversation with their partners and understand it fully.

                                                   

                                                • #50900
                                                  Peter Wilson
                                                  Participant
                                                      @peterw

                                                      Hi all,

                                                       

                                                      Hope the listening lessons went well. I’d like to try more dictations. I like Erica’s idea of unscramblig the written questions whilst listening as a bottom up appoach.

                                                      The group I have decided to try something out on is a beginners ESOL class. I liked the idea of doing a “live listening” mentioned in the Harmer chapter and the suggestion to do in interview with a proficient speaker in front of the class. I think I’ll get a member of the non-teachg staff in to interview. I’ll include some pre-listenig top down activities and maybe brainstorm and even possibly get Ls to write the Qs they’ll hear down and predict the answers. AsHArmer says, I think pair-checking is really important and useful and so will do a group discussion before feeding back to the class to make it more about teaching not just testing. I’ll give the groups some statemetns about the person to discuss which are true or false. I’ll follow up by trying a short dictation of a small section of the text for some more bottom up focus on words and grammar then move on to 3rd person grammar and writing up a personal profile. :bye: :bye: :bye:

                                                    • #50975
                                                      Gajinder Kaur
                                                      Participant
                                                          @gk

                                                          We need to expose our learners to more listening texts , more extensive listening if we want a well rounded language abilities.

                                                          But just listening is not enough, we need to ensure they comprehend what they are listening to, and the only way to do this is expose them to more listening; as well as answer specific and generic questions about the discourse.

                                                          And have them simultaneously unravel their listening process in their own minds, to mindfully track their metacognition…so that they can listen more effectively.

                                                          An activity I would certainly try out is the TED Talk listening, in all probability an influencer ( Greta Thurnburg)  my learners might recognise (or maybe not) on climate change. It is a hot topic and my learners- a mixed group of middle graders at sub-confident level are well aware of it. As mentioned in the book, it is a multi-skill activity and should help evolve their subskills quite adequately.

                                                          I might just present the topic of climate change briefly and introduce our speaker and play the video. After the first round, I’d ask gist questions. Then getting them into pairs, I’d play the video a second time and ask them to discuss answers to more specific questions.

                                                          I’d give them a transcript and ask them to read it and find any difficult words they might need help with. We could discuss these and get them familiar with meaning/form/pronunciation.

                                                          The third time, I’d ask them to read out the talk in pairs even as the video played.

                                                          So this activity has both bottom up processing- as in phonetic and linguistic awareness  and top down features- all paralinguistic features  involved. Students will be paying attention to sounds, words, tone, body language, facial expressions, all at the same time.

                                                          Especially in my classes in which we are compelled to follow preset plans and routines, I have seen a conspicuous absence of listening whilst the other 3 core skills are paid overarching attention. I want to shift the dynamics of the language skills engaged in in class and want to incorporate listening very strongly hereon.

                                                          Having experimented before with the same in another batch, I found that students were especially intrigued and engaged when they saw/heard peers speaking powerfully, fluently and accurately. It inspired them to do the same and I could see immediate ripple effects in the classroom.

                                                           

                                                        • #51159
                                                          Manuel Flores Lasarte
                                                          Moderator
                                                              @manuel

                                                              Thank you @robertd, @erica, @aytajs93, @peterw and @gk for sharing your practical ideas for teaching listening in your teaching contexts. Reading about different teaching and learning techniques, trying them out and talking about them is very useful to prepare for the DELTA module 1 exam. More specifically, the conversation here is helpful to develop your understanding of key concepts tested in paper 1, tasks 1 and 2 and also to answer the questions in paper 2, task 3.

                                                              Here is a summary of the main ideas to come out of the contributions that were made:

                                                              In order to teach listening (rather than test it), it is important to:

                                                              • Understand your teaching context and your learners in order to choose a topic learners know something about.
                                                              • Prepare learners for the content of the text. This can be done by:
                                                                – Using pictures to introduce the content of the listening. This can be done at any level.
                                                                – Asking questions or prompts to activate learners’ schemata on the topic / situation. @erica provides a good example of this.
                                                                – Using videos (without sound) to predict what is happening and then do the video with sound as a listening activity.  If you want to learn more about how to use video in the classroom for listening, you can have a look at this link from the British Council.

                                                              In addition to the typical gist and detail comprehension questions, there are other activities you can do in your listening lessons:

                                                              • Dictations have proved popular as they are a great way of focusing on top-down and bottom-up processing (see my response to Robert at the beginning of the forum). They are also a great way of encouraging learners to notice language and introducing grammar (see @peterw).
                                                              • You can also use TED talks or other videos to focus on phonological aspects (e.g. sounds, intonation or pausing), and extralinguistic aspects (e.g. body language and facial expressions) as a way of scaffolding speaker confidence (see @gk).
                                                              • Aytaj discusses creating a report form for the listening task where students can take notes on the topic of the recording, the level of difficulty and then can summarise the contents (see @aytajs93). This can be used to encourage learners to practise their extensive listening outside class. I did this using a Padlet and it worked quite well. You can see an example of this listening portfolio here.
                                                              • Doing a ‘live listening’ can also help build rapport with the students while also developing listening skills (see how @peterw wants to do it in his teaching or do the video observation found in the forum section of unit 3).
                                                              • Using the listening script as a post-listening activity can also help learners develop their awareness of connected speech, pause and intonation, thus helping with pronunciation. Have a look at Gajinder’s and Erica’s examples of activities you can do to work on pronunciation after listening tasks.
                                                              • Talking about speaking confidence, do not hesitate to use pair-checking/ peer-feedback and post-discussion tasks as a way of nicely integrating speaking and listening.
                                                              • Finally, another technique you may want to try is ‘jigsaw listening‘, another great way of combining listening and speaking skills.

                                                              Many thanks again for your contributions. As you can see, there is a lot we can learn from each other. Feel free to add any more comments you may have including commenting on each other’s posts.

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