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Buckingham Uni PGCE Feb15 Listening


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Advice on teaching listening in MFL

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Buckingham Uni PGCE Feb15 Listening

  1. 1. LISTENING The neglected skill? Buckingham University PGCE/IPGCE Feb 2017 Steve Smith
  2. 2. Developing confident listeners • Teachers tend to think listening is most neglected skill • Pupils often say it is the activity and test they fear most. • Challenge of building listening skill over 3-5 years to GCSE. • No easy fixes, no silver bullets.
  3. 3. Enjoying sounds (1)  Drill isolated sounds, linking them to spelling, e.g. in French use the phrase un bon vin blanc to practise the four nasal vowels; explain how you make a French and German u sound by trying to say ee while rounding your lips; explain the mechanics of making a uvular r sound in French and German, or a rolled r in Spanish.  Show students a side-on diagram of the mouth with the main articulators and how they work to create specific sounds. Give them some basic phonetics terminology to get them interested in the science of sounds, e.g. the terms plosive, voicing, fricative, bilabial, uvula, dental, alveolar and palatal.  When doing choral repetition exaggerate sounds a little and encourage students to do the same; show them clear mouth shapes.  Group words together with the same vowel sounds, e.g. when displaying words on PowerPoint slides for repetition work. Point out how different letter combinations can produce the same sound (notably in French).
  4. 4. The vocal tract
  5. 5. Vowel charts
  6. 6. Enjoying sounds (2)  Be acutely aware of the sounds which will cause difficulty to English native speakers, e.g. all French vowels, r sounds in all languages, German fricatives (ch) and diphthongs, Spanish bilabial, sibilant (s) and fricative (j) sounds. Focus on them and have fun making them.  Link gestures to sounds and spellings, e.g. raising your arms or fingers for certain accents.  Use tongue-twisters.  Use reading aloud to reinforce good habits, but do this sensitively and in short chunks. Reading aloud helps embed sound-spelling links and aids vocabulary retention.  Model correct stress and intonation, explaining how it works in the TL and draw slanting lines above written sentences to illustrate it.  When using slides to highlight sound-spelling links, highlight key sounds in a different colour.  Talk about different accents in English, and contrast native language and TL sounds.
  7. 7. Top-down and bottom-up listening • Top-down Over dinner, a friend tells you a story about a recent holiday which went badly wrong. You listen with interest and make comments at appropriate moments, maybe to express surprise or sympathy. • Bottom-up The next day, a partner calls to ask you to buy some items at the supermarket for a meal. You listen carefully and make notes on a piece of paper.
  8. 8. Developing bottom-up listening skills (1) • Key question: How do we help students recognise words and pick them out in the stream of sound? • Make sure you teach vocabulary, words both in isolation and in context. Use the spoken word to do this, not just the written. • Do transcription tasks, e.g. dictation of words, phrases and longer chunks, filling in letter gaps in words, completing notes on a grid while listening to instructions. • Read aloud to students as they follow the written transcript. • Recycle previously learned words and chunks as much as possible.
  9. 9. Developing bottom-up listening skills (2) • Work intensively on short audio and video listening texts (see below, including a range of task types you can use). • Listen to short statements and translate them into English. • When doing question-answer work and other types of interaction, include the opportunity for pupils to write down answers to oral questions. • Exploit the concept of “narrow listening”, whereby the students are exposed, through different activities, to four or five short texts on the same topic and containing very similar vocabulary.
  10. 10. But remember… You are the main and best provider of input. Why? 1. You can tailor the pace and content precisely to your class. 2. You can provide interactive listening through QA and other interactions. 3. You can provide facial expressions, gesture, repetition, pauses, cognates, checks for understanding. 4. Pupils may listen harder to real people than disembodied voices.
  11. 11. Why do pupils often find listening exams hard? • Fleeting nature of material. • Concentration issues. • Sound quality issues. • Stress. • Poor preparation or lack of practice. • Lack of vocabulary.
  12. 12. Questions you might ask yourself (1) • Do you devote enough lesson time to some form of listening practice (including oral interaction tasks with you or a partner)? • Are listening skills a main concern in your planning, both short and longer term? Do you put most of your effort into teaching vocabulary and grammar at the expense of building a bank of resources and a repertoire of strategies for listening? • Do your students perceive listening as crucial to their learning? Do you encourage them to practise listening independently? • Are you aware enough of the cognitive challenges your students face while listening or learning to listen? When your students perform really poorly at a listening task, do you ask them what was hard? • Do you just stick to the textbook, pick tasks and press the play button following the teacher’s book recommendations? Or do you adapt text book tasks to make them better learning opportunities? Do you plan for any pre- and post-listening tasks?
  13. 13. Questions you might ask yourself (2) • Do the texts you use contain comprehensible input, i.e. where the students already understand the large majority of the vocabulary and where the grammar doesn’t pose major challenges? • Do the large majority of your listening activities consist of comprehension tasks? How often do you use listening activities to model new language in context, sentence construction and correct use of grammar and pronunciation? • How much do you focus in your lessons on training the students in bottom-up processing skills, especially decoding skills (how to turn combination of letters into sounds) and any other skills which help students interpret the sound stream? • Do your students enjoy listening? Do you think of ways of making it more enjoyable, e.g. by video listening or including purposeful activities such as trying to spot mistakes or untruths in a message? • Do your students feel confident that they’ll succeed? Do they say “Miss, I’m not good at listening”? If you’ve previously raised their own self-belief in this area they’re more likely to be motivated to do the task.
  14. 14. Zero prep listening tasks (1) Tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up! You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own true/false statements. This can be further extended by getting students in pairs to recount your weekend from their notes and/or their own weekend.
  15. 15. Zero prep listening tasks (2) Would I lie? Students try to work out which three of six statements are not true by asking you questions. You prepare six statements about yourself, three true and three false, and write them on the board. For example: • My brother has twin sons. • I have three cats. • If I’d been a boy, I would’ve been called George. • My family was brought up in Spain. • My favourite movie is The Sound of Music. • My father was an extra in Star Wars. Ask the class how many of the statements they think are false. Then tell them there are three. Tell them they have to work out which by asking you questions, listening to your answers and watching your reaction. You can embroider answers, giving the right number of hints depending on how fast you think your class is. Let students ask questions until they have decided which ones they believe (by a show of hands). Give them the real answer. You could add an element of competition by putting the class into pairs or small groups, with each grouping coming up with their chosen two false statements. An extension to this task is to ask students to write down similar statements for themselves – three true and three false. Divide them into groups and repeat as above with one person from the group being questioned by the others.
  16. 16. Zero prep listening tasks (3) One lie Give each student about five minutes to write down a set of statements about themselves, all of which are true except one. In turn, each student reads their sentences and their partner has to identify the false statement. You can make this fit a particular grammar point you have been working on, e.g. to practise the past tense you could set the them What I did last summer. Or, to practice the future tense My plans for the future. A simple variation would be for each partner to have to discover how many lies their partner uttered, rather than just find one.
  17. 17. Teach grammar through listening (1) Sentence puzzles Sentence puzzles are an effective way to teach grammar and syntax through listening. Provide students with a set of jumbled-up sentences to unscramble while you say them in the correct order. The task is to re-write them correctly in the table/grid provided, placing each element of the sentence under the right heading. After completing the transcribing task, ask students to work out the rule. Here are some sentence puzzles in French, followed by the grid. (Example on next slide)
  18. 18. Sentence puzzles for teaching grammar through listening 1. suis allé stade je au ne jamais 2. rien n’ vu elle café au a 3. sommes ne en nous pas taxi rentrés 4. est restaurant on sorti au n’ pas 5. n’ tu fait rien as ville en Personal pronoun Negative Auxiliary Negative Past participle Preposition Noun/Pronoun Je ne suis jamais allé au stade
  19. 19. Teach grammar through listening (2) Sorting tasks: easy to improvise and use as starters, fillers or plenaries. • Read aloud sentences each containing a specific structure you want students to notice. Students have to categorise the structure. For example, you could work on tenses with intermediate or advanced classes by reading a series of sentences, each one featuring a different tense. Students simply tick off the tense they hear in each case from a list. • Focus on adjective endings. You read a series of statements, each one featuring the use of an adjective in its feminine form. Students note down whether the adjective is regular or irregular.
  20. 20. Teach grammar through listening (3) “Find someone who…” Each student is given a card with fictitious details and a grid showing the details to look for. The task is to find people with those details on their cards by asking questions in the TL. Although it may appear to be a speaking task, this activity is mainly a listening one as students read out details in response to questions. Next slide for example grid.
  21. 21. Find someone who… Possible questions Name on card never reads What sports do you do? Do you read much? How often do you play computer games? Do you go out with your parents? What do you do at the weekend? Do you watch much TV? How often do you go out? goes out every evening goes out with parents a lot never does sport no longer goes out does sport four times week reads every day plays computer games every day rarely watches TV
  22. 22. Helping the process along • intervention-strategies-for-underachieving-l2-listeners/ (11 strategies for helping under-achieving listeners)
  23. 23. Question How much target language?