September 2010 peterson


Published on

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

September 2010 peterson

  1. 1. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal Internet-Based Resources for Developing Listening Ene Peterson, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia Corresponding author: ISSN 2185-3762 Publication date: September, 2010.To cite this articlePeterson, E. (2010). Internet-based resources for developing listening. Studies in Self-AccessLearning Journal, 1 (2). 139-154.To link to this article article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Please contactthe author for permission to re-print elsewhere.Scroll down for article
  2. 2. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154 Internet-Based Resources for Developing Listening Ene Peterson, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia Introduction Developing listening skills comes "naturally" for some students, but with greatdifficulty for others. Acquiring listening skills can even be frustrating for some students.For some time, listening was regarded as a "passive" or "receptive" skill and,consequently, not particularly crucial as a skill area to be taught. Researchers then beganto recognize the importance of listening and its role in comprehensible input (Krashen,1982), and attention to and adoption of newer comprehension-based methodologiesbrought the issue to the fore. Listening became a skill to be reckoned with and its keyposition in communication recognized (Feyten, 1991; Omaggio Hadley, 2001). In thecommunicative approach to language teaching, this means teachers modelling listeningstrategies and providing listening practice in authentic situations: those that learners arelikely to encounter when they use the language outside the classroom. Given theimportance of listening in language learning and teaching it is essential to give ourlearners opportunity to develop and improve their listening skills not only in theclassroom, but outside the classroom as well. We have now entered a digital era in which technology is no longer a novelty.Technological advancement has always occurred in the past, but never at this speed.Although “technology is not a panacea that can replace language teachers and face-to-face classrooms, it is something that can be used to enhance language learning” (Sharma& Barrett, 2007). Self-access learning centres promote the approach whereby studentsstudy independently choosing from among different resources that are available.Listening lends itself to self-access in the same way that reading does. Listening in thereal world and listening to authentic texts, however, is obviously more complex. But howcan we help our learners become effective listeners and to overcome difficulties inlistening comprehension and other barriers to listening? Why not draw on technology? Learners can use ICT (Information CommunicationTechnology) in developing and improving their language skills, in particular listeningcomprehension for the following good reasons: 139
  3. 3. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-1541. Current university students have been characterised as the "Net Generation" (Oblinger& Oblinger, 2005; Barnes, Marateo, & Ferris, 2007; Prensky, 2001) and “native speakers”of the digital language of computers, video games, and the Internet (Presnky, 2001).Learners today have high expectations when it comes to technology and they expect alanguage school or programme to offer opportunities to use technology in their courses,for example via a well-equipped self-access centre (Sharma & Barrett, 2007).2. The use of technology outside the language classroom or in the self-access centre canmake learners more autonomous. One key feature of using technology in learning is thatit allows language practice and study away from the confines of the classroom at yourown pace anywhere: a hotel room, the office, an Internet café, at home or, of course, inthe self-access language centre.3. New ICT skills learnt in the classroom (e.g. Internet search skills) can be transferred toreal life. Using a range of ICT tools and a web-based environment can give learnersexposure to practicing listening regularly, and consequently, become a more effectivelistener.4. The use of technology via web-based environment can be current, e.g. using a listeningactivity with today’s news from news websites can add a dimension of immediacy tolistening practice.5. While listening to digital audio or watching a video clip, learners have the opportunityto pause at will, and listen and read a transcript. Moreover, learners can get instantfeedback on what they have done (e.g. you watch a video clip/listen to audio and checkanswers immediately after watching/listening).6. Learners can access authentic websites, as well as websites for EFL/ESL learners. Aslearners become used to selecting and evaluating listening materials, they are able to plan 140
  4. 4. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154out their own use of web-based materials in their own time. This helps them becomeeffective listeners and independent learners. In this review we will take a look at a number of online resources for developinglistening skills (e.g. audio and video, podcasts, video clip tools), and suggest somestrategies for improving listening ability. The Internet – A Goldmine of Listening Materials Some years ago the Internet held the promise of access to authentic audio andvideo. Today that promise has been realized. An unending stream of audio and videolessons, television and radio broadcasts, including news and documentaries, and musicvideos are now at our fingertips through different sources. In addition to this, a newgeneration of internet tools are available (Skype, podcasts, online webcasts andconferences, voice boards). Moreover, social networks create multiple opportunities forauthentic communication.Audio and Video The principal benefits of online audio and video start with the range of material interms of subject matter, accent of the speaker, and length. Some of the activities willonly take up a short amount of time, for example listening to the news, whereas others,such as participating in conference calls or listening to TV broadcasts will requirelearners to set aside quite a lot of time. Online audio and video news. Online listening activities are divided into those that are specifically scripted forEnglish learners, while others consist of authentic materials which have been speciallyselected.The BBC World Service Learning English offers both types of activity. • News English Extra 141
  5. 5. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154 • News about England Short reports from the BBC World Service international radio news with a short summary, transcript, and a glossary of some vocabulary terms. • Listen and Watch Five-minute audio reports and transcripts on subjects such as famous people, pop music, and entertainment. Students can listen to or watch news on the computer, or download audio and video files to their mp3 players. Audio and video materials are accompanied by language practice activities that learners can do on their computers while they listen or watch, or print out and do them when they want to.The BBC News A very useful thing about the BBC audio/video is that it contains recordings ofindividual stories which are one to two minutes long. Learners can choose which topicthey would like to listen to. There is a wide variety of different categories – Business,Technology, World News, UK News, Technology, and so on. The BBC site ispredominantly British English.CNN News Similarly to the BBC site, learners can listen to clips of individual news items orto whole programmes. The CNN site is predominantly American English.Breaking News English This site has news articles on different topics along with a sound recording of thearticle accompanied by a resource book with ready-to-use ESL/EFL lessons andworksheets that learners can work with on their own.Monthly News Digest Online A "news digest" is a summary of news stories. Each month EnglishClub creates adigest in easy English with four short audio news reports from the past 30 days. MonthlyNews Digest Online has been designed so that English learners can use it on their ownnot only for practising listening but for reading, writing, and even speaking. It is postedon the first day of each month and includes audio feeds, texts, and exercises. Some tipsfor listening to the summary of news: Pre-listening: Try to guess what words might fit in the blanks. 142
  6. 6. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154 Listening: Listen to the audio three times: 1) to get the gist, 2) to fill in the clozepassages, and 3) to check answers. Other ideas for listening activities can be found in Business English Using theInternet (Barber, 2007, p. 69-70) and Blended Learning (Sharma & Barrett, 2007, p. 39-40). Barrett and Sharma (2005, p. 96-101) offer four worksheets for using video or audioclips on the BBC site to develop such different listening skills as summarising,deepening, updating, widening, and so on. More audio and video resources. Daily ESL, Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab, and EZSlang are created andmaintained by Randall Davis. Reading newspapers and textbooks can be helpful forAcademic English, but many students often spend their time reading information that isvery difficult and might not be used in day-to-day conversations. Thus, Daily ESL ( is designed to help learners becomefamiliar with common vocabulary and expressions they can use all the time in manysituations. Learners choose a topic, listen and read along with a paragraph, and thendiscuss the questions with a partner. They can then compare their thoughts to therecorded interview. The site EZSlang ( ) is designed to help learners (from low-intermediate to advanced) improve their survival skills in many different situations and tomake learning slang an easier process for better communication. Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab ( has short and longlistening activities for beginner-level as well as advanced-level students accompanied bypre-, while and post-listening tasks, transcripts, and cultural video clips. Randall Davisstates that the main objective of the site is not to test students listening skills; rather, bydoing the variety of pre-listening, listening, and post-listening activities, students candiscover ways to learn how to develop their listening skills. He believes that listening andspeaking skills must be developed together, and working together with other students ingroups and discussing the content of the listening activities help learners improve theiroverall communication skills by focusing on specific tasks. 143
  7. 7. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154Ello You can find free, well-produced, and clearly-organised content on one site calledEllo. Ello includes interviews, videos, games, and more. There is News Centre (withanimated newscasts), which can help students learn Academic English and develop testtaking skills for standardized listening components of tests such as TOEFL, TOEIC, andIELTS. There are other sections to explore, such as Mixer, Views, Points, and evenSongs, and each section has a wide selection of material.Video Jug Video Jug is the worlds most comprehensive library of free factual video contentonline. Video Jug gives numerous opportunities for learners to practice listening skillsand to become actively engaged in the listening process. Learners can practice theirlistening skills by listening to the interview with Stephen Fry (see Appendix A). There isa tapescript to accompany the listening text.Podcasts Podcasts are audio recordings which a user can subscribe to and download tohis/her computer or portable listening device such as an MP3 player (Barber, 2007). Theclosest analogy to a podcast is that of a radio or TV show, but the difference is that youcan listen to or watch a podcast on a topic that interests you whenever you want to. Apodcast can be on any topic and can include music and video. Video podcasts are alsoknown as Vodcasts or PodClips. Podcasts can be used not only for authentic listening inthe classroom but for self-study outside of the classroom as well. According to Dudneyand Hockly (2007), recording lectures as podcasts (referred to as course casting) isbecoming increasingly common in tertiary education. By doing that, students who miss aclass can then download the lecture podcasts for later listening on their computers ormobile devices like an MP3 player. More demanding, but ultimately perhaps morerewarding, is the option of learners actually producing their own podcasts. You can finddetailed information related to podcasts from Podcasting Tools ( According to Barber (2007) making podcasts is simple and you can 144
  8. 8. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154find guidelines from his book Fifty ways to improve your Business English using theInternet (p. 77-78). Since it is easy to create podcasts, they are appearing in every area of the WorldWide Web. Lewis (2009) draws attention to the fact that “there are good and badpodcasts, and since everything can look so professional, it is hard to know which is whichat first glance. Hence, broad searches can be a bit hit and miss” (p. 70). Podcastdirectories are one place to start looking for podcasts. Learners can click on a categoryand scroll though a list of podcasts, listening to and subscribing to any that interest them.Students can also find tips for podcast searches on iTunes( A podcast directory aimed specifically atteachers and learners of English is Englishcaster ( ESLpodcast sites have been developed for different purposes: vocabulary and grammartopics, idioms and slang, business English, world news and current events, limericks andjokes, songs, and poetry.BBC Podcasts The BBC, the quintessential international news and media organization, was oneof the earliest creators of podcasts. They first offered a limited number of traditional BBCaudio programs as podcasts. Since then, the BBC expanded the list of podcasts they offer(covering everything from drama to news and sports) to many more audio podcasts, videotrials (an experiment they stopped in 2007), and music-only podcasts (started inNovember, 2007).ESL Listening: Podcasts This is a sub-page of The Internet TESL Journal with different categories ofpodcasts: for native speakers, newest podcasts by ESL podcasters, listen and repeatpodcast for practising intonation, rhythm and intonation, jokes in English podcast, “Learna song” podcast, and so on. 145
  9. 9. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154Learn Songs This site features folk songs, campfire songs, and group-singing songs that nativeEnglish speakers sing. These podcasts are short and designed to be listened to more thanonce, so learners can listen and sing along as many times as they need to in order to learnthe song.English Feed English Feed is a weekly podcast including review and listening exercises onimportant grammar and vocabulary subjects. It is an ideal podcast for beginning tointermediate level students to study basic structures like phrasal verbs, past forms,modals, listening comprehension quizzes, and more. English Feed also includes thetranscript, grammar resources, and exercises.ELT Podcast ELT Podcast provides basic conversations for EFL and ESL students and classes.ELT Podcast presents a common conversation theme in each episode. The firstpresentation is at a normal speed, and then at a slower, less natural speed to help withcomprehension. The site also provides a transcript of the conversation.Elementary Podcasts A variety of listening activities (episodes) on different topics (e.g. family, pets,travel problems, clothes, and so on) that learners can do on their computers while theylisten. They can also be printed out to do later.Professional Podcasts This series of podcasts helps learners to improve their English for their career inthe workplace and covers a large number of business and work themes. They are suitablefor learners at intermediate to advanced level. 146
  10. 10. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154Business English Business English Pod provides free weekly MP3 podcast ESL lessons andaudio/e-Book courses for intermediate and advanced business English learners. Eachbusiness English podcast lesson is focused on a particular workplace English skill (suchas meetings, presentations, telephoning, negotiating, socializing, travel, and conversation)and language function (such as clarifying, disagreeing, questioning, expressing opinions,and persuasion). Video Vocab is a video podcast (vodcast) published by BusinessEnglish Pod for ESL learners who want to expand and improve their English vocabularyfor business ( Each ESL video lesson looks at a group of keyEnglish vocabulary words and terms related to a particular business topic. The meaningof the vocabulary is explained with simple definitions and pictures along with an exampleof how the vocabulary can be used. Current lessons feature vocabulary on the economy,law, project management, accounting and finance, the credit crisis, and Web 2.0 Internettechnologies.Splendid Speaking Podcasts This site supports upper-intermediate and advanced learners of English developtheir top-level speaking skills and communication strategies. In 2005, Peter Travis, thehost of the Splendid Speaking podcasts, was shortlisted for the Quality ImprovementAgency Star Award for the “E-Learning Tutor of the Year” sponsored by Microsoft.Users sign up for the Splendid Speaking newsletter ( and receive transcripts, comprehension questions, aweekly task sheet to help them prepare for a similar talk, and a vocabulary worksheet torecord the “Splendid Expressions” daily quiz.Video clip tools Now that a growing majority of Internet users have broadband, YouTube( and other video clip sites (e.g. Google Video at,and Revver Video Sharing Network at have become very popular.These sites provide English learners with a new tool to improve listening skills. 147
  11. 11. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154 YT (YouTube) was invented by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim.According to their fact sheet, YT was founded in February, 2005, as a destination towatch and share original videos worldwide through the Web. YT has gained enormouspopularity in a relatively short time. This online video-sharing social network has beenenthusiastically welcomed by EFL learners and teachers because of its potential toprovide “a huge multimedia library of real language use by real people, a potentially richresource for language learning or corpus collections” (Godwin-Jones, 2007). Bybrowsing video clip sites, learners can find videos on almost any topic (education,politics, science, technology, entertainment, and so on), spoken in different varieties ofthe language (standard, foreign accented, and so on) and at different levels of difficulty.According to Bearer (2010) the real advantage to these sites - at least from a languagelearning point of view - is that they offer authentic examples of everyday English used byeveryday people. However, learners may enjoy watching these clips, but poor soundquality, pronunciation, and slang can make these short videos even more difficult tounderstand. Task sheets can help them to explore the world of online English learningpossibilities (for an example task sheet, refer to Appendix B). Conclusion Listening comprehension is often the most difficult task for learners of English asa foreign language. Listening in the real world and listening to authentic texts is morecomplex than listening to non-authentic texts in the classroom environment. Effectivelistening does not just happen. Access to up-to-date materials via the Internet gives thestudents opportunities to develop and improve their listening skills by using materials inthe self-access language learning centre or outside the classroom. With the appropriateuse of technology, learning can be made more active, motivating, and learner-centred,especially with such internet-based resources as audio-video, podcasts, and video cliptools. 148
  12. 12. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154 Notes on the contributorEne Peterson is a lecturer at Virumaa College of Tallinn University of Technology with30 years’ experience in ELT and ESP, currently Head of the Division of the Humanitiesand Social Sciences. Apart from that she is engaged in teacher training and in the work ofteachers’ associations, being Chair of the Association of Teachers of Estonian as aSecond Language and Chair of the Estonian Association of Foreign Language Teachers.Her professional interests include different aspects of methodology of teaching ESL andESP (e.g. teaching process writing, developing listening skills, and portfolio assessment)and the use of technology in teaching languages. ReferencesBarber, E. (2007). Fifty ways to improve your Business English using the internet. Oxford: Summertown Publishing Ltd.Barnes, K., Marateo, R., & Ferris, S. (2007). Teaching and learning with the Net Generation. Innovate, 3(4). Retrieved from _Generation.pdfBarrett, B., & Sharma, P. (2005). The internet and Business English. Oxford: Summertown Publishing Ltd.Bearer, K. (2010). YouTube in the classroom!. Retrieved from, G., & Hockly, N. (2007). How to teach English with technology. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.Godwin-Jones, R. (2007). Emerging technologies. Digital video update: YouTube, Flash, High-definition. Language Learning and Technology, 11(1), 12-16. Retrieved from, S. D. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press. 149
  13. 13. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154Lewis, G. (2007). Bringing technology into the classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Oblinger, D. G., & Oblinger, J. L. (Eds.). (2005). Educating the Net Generation. EDUCAUSE. Retrieved from Hadley, A. (2001). Teaching language in context (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Heinle.Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5). Retrieved from, P., & Barrett, B. (2007). Blended learning: Using technology in and beyond the language classroom. Oxford: Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 150
  14. 14. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154 Appendix AListeningStephen Fry: TechnologyBefore listeningTask 1. Fill in the table.I know I would like to knowStephen FryTask 2.Find the meaning of the following words and acronyms:No. Word or Definition Translation acronym1. A smart phone2. A camera phone3. SMS4. MMS5. iPod6. iPhoneListeningListen to the interview: 1: Would you describe yourself as a geek?Fill in the blanks: 1. His friends call him a geek because he offers a service of rescuing............................ and helping them setup the.................................... 2. He helps friends because he is endlessly curious about the nature of ...........................and the way they ...................and how and why they go........................... 151
  15. 15. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154 3. He doesn’t claim to be the most brilliant geek, but he compared to his friends he is ................................................. because most of them are completely............................ 4. In order to drive a car it is not important to know how, but he is interested in it.Question 2: Are you an early adopter of new technology?Are the following statements True or False or don’t know (DK)?No Statement True False DK1. Stephen was the first person ever to have a MAC in England.2. Stephen was the first person to send e-mails.3. Stephen is the only person who has been really interested in new technologies.a nerd – a foolish, unattractive persona specky person= an unimportant person Compare: a speck- a spotQuestion 3: What’s your favourite piece of kit at the moment?Answer the questions. 1. What is Stephen’s current obsession? ................................ 2. How many favourite things has he got? ................... 3. Which Apple products are in the market? .................... 4. Which Apple product is coming soon? ........................ 5. How does he describe his current obsession? ........................ obsession - the domination of ones thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.After listeningFind five more facts about Stephen Fry.I got to know ... 152
  16. 16. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154 Appendix BTOPIC: ARE YOU A LEARNER OF THE FUTURE?Video clip 1: Education Today and Tomorrow Summarize in one sentence the difference of education today and tomorrow.Video clip 2: Importance of learning a second language Goldfish v. Kitty Watch and finish the sentence.Watching a video clip I got to know that learning a second language…..Video clip 3: Foreign Language -Funny watchingFind out the difference between the words sinking and thinking?After watchingWhat did you learn from the video clip?Video clip 4: Why learn a foreign language? ideas: 4 ideas form the video clip:1. 1.2. 2.3. 3.4. 4. 153
  17. 17. SiSAL Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, September, 2010, 139-154Video clip 5: 21st Century Learning Matters watchingFind the meaning of the collocations Collocation Meaning digital native global environmentWhile watchingTask 1: Fill in the table while watching the video clip.WHAT are the WHAT needs HOW will it be WHERE will HOW dochallenges of the to be learned? learned? learning we get21st century? occur? there?Task 2: What is the motto of the 21st century? 154