November 13

Listening: teaching skills or testing students?

Huge thanks to everyone who came to my ACEIA talk yesterday – I hope you went away with a few practical ideas for how we can make our learners more effective listeners and support them in making the most of the one-way listening they do outside the classroom.


Here are some links from the presentation you may be interested in:
Learning to Listen, Marc Hegelson
Challenges and Issues in Second Language Listening, Tony Lynch
Teaching Listening and Speaking: From Theory to Practice, Jack C. Richards
Grab it! – How I see it now, Hana Tichá
Five Ways to Listen Better, Julian Treasure
May 18

Using music

Hmmm…my first use of tagxedo!  Can’t quite figure out how to make it bigger though, without it looking distorted.  This came from a staff meeting we had on using music in the classroom – using it in the foreground, in the background, as a reward, as part of a routine with YLs…lots of fantastic ideas.  As they’re not so easy to read, I’ll pop them in below as well 🙂

TPR – songs with actions – karoke – running dictations before listening – gapfill – listen and point – invent the tune/video/ new verse – work with rhyme – predict vocabulary – bingo – use it for a grammar/vocab focus – as an introduction to a topic – stream of consciousness writing – visualisation – listen for mistakes in the tapescript – musical statues – musical consequences – guess the film – name the instruments – song posters – starting/ending the lesson – transition between activities…I’m sure you can think of more too!

August 24

Lyrics Training

Here’s a great site for students and also for teachers who might be learning the foreign language of the country they work in.  Lyrics Training is an innovative site where you listen to popular songs and complete the lyrics.  There are three levels: Easy and Medium (10% and 25% gapfill respectively) and Hard, in which you must listen and complete the entire song.  There are a variety of songs in English, but you could also brush up on Spanish, French or German to name but a few.

March 17

Song dictation

Here’s another great activity from Catherine Morley’s TESOL-SPAIN workshop…

Type up the lyrics to part of a song and stick them on the wall outside the classroom.  Put students into pairs and then explain that student A has to go outside, read and remember part of the text and then come back in and dictate it to their partner who writes it down.  This works well if you put a line halfway through the song so that the students swap roles.  Remind students that they can’t shout and (depending on space) can’t run.  When students have finished, check the lyrics for spelling mistakes and then play the song for them to follow.

I did this activity with a Primary group the other day, using one of the songs from their coursebook – as you know, I’m always looking for ways to exploit those songs!  They really enjoyed the activity – it was competitive but very inclusive: the stronger students perhaps did it a little quicker, though they still made some mistakes, and for weaker students it was an opportunity to use the skills they have, but which are sometimes afraid to show when doing group or whole class activities.  And even though there was a competitive nature to the activity, there was no “reward” for doing the activity faster.

March 10

Dictogloss or total gapfill?

As I was writing yesterday’s post, I realised that I do something like a dictogloss with my Young Learners, but I’d just never realised that’s what I was doing!  At school, we use the Bugs series of books by Macmillan and they have some really fun songs in them, though I sometimes want to do more with the song than just ask students to sing it.  So, without opening their books, I play the song and ask them to write down all the words they hear.  Then I put the song on the board with spaces where the words should be and students take it in turns to say words they heard.  I write them on in the correct space and then, when students have run out of words, I play the song again and ask them to write down any words they’re missing.  At this point, they’re able to follow the song on the board and so they are more focused on specific words.