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Teaching Listening Comprehension


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Insights in how to teach listening comprehension, examples of activities and how to design activities for listening comprehension.

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Teaching Listening Comprehension

  1. 1. Teaching Listening Comprehension Damascus University Higher Languages Institute Presentation by: Abd Al-Rahman Al-Midani Course Professor: Ms. Rana Shabaan December 23, 2013 Email:
  2. 2. Outline  Listening Skill  Characteristics of Spoken Language  Why Teach Listening  Listening Activities  Criteria for Making Listening Activities  References
  3. 3. Listening skill  Listening is an internal process that cannot be directly observed.  Psycholinguistics propose theories on what happens as somebody listens.  One theory suggests that as a person listens, he is constructing a parallel massage based on clues he receives from the interlocutor. Listening is an active process in which the listener plays a crucial role in constructing the message.
  4. 4.  Stages of listening process according to Rivers and Temperley A. Determine if a sound or a stream of sounds is systematic and organized or random; B. Impose some structure on the stream of sounds through breaking it up into sentences and words; and C. Circulate and process the broken up stream of sounds and decide the important ones to be recorded and stored.
  5. 5. • Factors that come into play as a person listens: 1. Knowledge of the phonology or sound system of the language in question; 2. 3.   Knowledge of the world shared with the interlocutor; and Familiarity with the subject of discussion. Good portion of the massage is conveyed through body language. Attitudes between the speakers help in the process of listening comprehension
  6. 6. Characteristics of Spoken Language  Redundancy:  Repetition, restating, back-tracking characterize spoken language;  Redundancy can be considered an advantage or disadvantage for listeners.  Untidiness:  Spontaneous conversations contain sometimes ungrammatical structures, fragments, pauses etc…  These errors might be distracting for the learner of a foreign language if he was not exposed to them during the learning process. Environmental Interference:  They are the noise that may confuse the listener as he tries to listen to some message; the outcome is that he has to guess and fill in what he could not hear.
  7. 7. Why Teach Listening  Listening comprehension is a skill that tends to be neglected because of many reasons:  Feeling among teachers that learners develop it automatically as he tries to speak it;  Easiness to hide incompetence in it;  Audiolingual courses teach other skills rather than teaching listening.  Reasons to teach listening:  It is tested in certain exams;  Source of enjoyable activities;  For those whom English is their second language, English is the medium of instruction without which academic achievement will suffer; and  Teaching listening results in the learners acquire this skill faster and more efficiently.
  8. 8.  What language to use in Teaching listening?  The material used in teaching listening should cover the major dialects of English: American and British ones.  The materials should also cover a variety of registers ranging from highly formal speeches to informal conversations.
  9. 9. Listening Activities  It is difficult to subdivide listening skills to sub-skills, so listening activities should require the listener to do global listening hoping that he will acquire competence through practice and exercises.  These exercises require the learner to do: A. Make and confirm predictions in a text; B. Extract specific information; C. Grasp the gist; D. Discover the speakers attitudes and opinions as expressed the text; E. deduce and infer the meaning of unknown language structures in the text; F. Recognize discourse markers; and G. Recognize and distinguish between the different sounds, stress patters and intonation contours.
  10. 10.  Vowel and consonant discrimination  When learners have problem distinguishing between two sounds, minimal pairs serve to train them on the difference between the sounds;  Listening to sounds 1) Students are asked to close their eyes and listen to the sounds; some minutes after that, they are required to speak about what they listened to; 2) The teacher plays imagination sparking tapes, and he asks students to speak about what was happening.
  11. 11.  Listening passage  It is the most activity used in teaching listening and it involves several steps: choosing the topic, giving background, setting guide question, playing or reading the text, answering the questions, relistening and answering further questions.  Completion Exercises  These activities are based on the assumption that good listeners can expect what the speaker is about t say. 1. Long completion: the teacher reads a texts and pauses and speakers have to fill in these clozes with word, phrase or clause. 2. Short completion: the texts which the teacher uses are shorter.
  12. 12.  Spot the change  The teacher reads a text to the students. After that he reads it again with some changes. Students have to spot these changes.  Following instructions  This activity utilizes the Total Physical Response. Teachers issue oral instructions that the learner who have to demonstrate their comprehension through carrying out these instruction physically.  What is it?  It is a game-like activity in which the teacher describes something or somebody, and the students have to guess it.
  13. 13.  Anecdotes and jokes  After being told an anecdote, students can do a variety of tasks like retelling it, or answering questions that check their comprehension.  Song  They can be treated as listening activities and questions maybe posed to ensure listening comprehension.  Filling in the clozes is also a useful exercise  Extensive Listening  They are purely listening for pleasure; the students are not haunted by the phantoms of listening comprehension questions.
  14. 14. Criteria for making listening activities: • The exercises the students are asked to perform must be realistic & motivating • Not stripped of redundancy • Variety of activities • Suitability in terms of age, level, and interests • Introduced gradually in small doses • Variety of registers, voices, genres. • Clarity and loudness • Not highly detailed
  15. 15. References • J. C. Richards and R. Schmidt, Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics. Harlow: Longman, 2010. • C. T. Linse, Practical English Language Teaching: Young Learners. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2005. • A. S. Hasan, Methodology id teaching English to Young Learners.Damascus University Press. 2013.
  16. 16. Thank You Very Much!