Overview

ESL Learners

Cultural Bridges

Teaching ESL

English skills

Lesson Planning

Activities

Lesson Materials

Further Resources

Bibliography


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Teaching Listening

Listening skills are vital for your learners. Of the 'four skills,' listening is by far the most frequently used. Listening and speaking are often taught together, but beginners, especially non-literate ones, should be given more listening than speaking practice. It's important to speak as close to natural speed as possible, although with beginners some slowing is usually necessary. Without reducing your speaking speed, you can make your language easier to comprehend by simplifying your vocabulary, using shorter sentences, and increasing the number and length of pauses in your speech.

There are many types of listening activities. Those that don't require learners to produce language in response are easier than those that do. Learners can be asked to physically respond to a command (for example, "please open the door"), select an appropriate picture or object, circle the correct letter or word on a worksheet, draw a route on a map, or fill in a chart as they listen. It's more difficult to repeat back what was heard, translate into the native language, take notes, make an outline, or answer comprehension questions. To add more challenge, learners can continue a story text, solve a problem, perform a similar task with a classmate after listening to a model (for example, order a cake from a bakery), or participate in real-time conversation.

Good listening lessons go beyond the listening task itself with related activities before and after the listening. Here is the basic structure:

The following ideas will help make your listening activities successful.

Look for listening activities in the Activities and Lesson Materials sections of this guide. If your learners can use a computer with internet access and headphones or speakers, you may direct them toward the following listening practice sites. You could also assign specific activities from these sites as homework. Teach new vocabulary ahead of time if necessary.