What is Listening Comprehension?
Listening Activities Should Reflect Real Life Listening (RLL)
Visual and Environmental Clues in Listening
Common Listening Problems in ESL Students
Listening to Every Word is Often Unneccessary
Colloquial Speech in Listening is an Additional Problem in ESL Listening
Listener Fatigue and Accents
Teacher Tips for Planning Effective TEFL Listening Activities
by Grant Fraser
Grant is from Scotland and has been living and working in Suzhou, China since 2011 teaching English to young learners. He is keen to share his experiences and ideas with other teachers throughout China and the rest of the world. If you would like to contact Grant please click here
I teach reading to young learners aged 7-9 in my English corners. As a modern teacher, I use my iPad and free online fairy tale books from my (Chinese) App Store. I have found a variety of free interactive books from TabTale.
Once our heart rate is up and our lungs are filled with good laughs, it’s time to listen to a fairy tale. The fairy tales are interactive and during the first listening they enjoy moving the characters and copying their voices. (I encourage them to go crazy – I believe children learn best when they don’t feel boxed in)
The first listening is for them to make out what the story is about and for them to settle down from a hyped-up warmer. The second listening is often calmer, as they know which characters move and they are aware of what is going on. During this session they listen more intently to the words in the interactive story and the sounds of the reader.
New Words in the Story
Get the Students Reading Themselves
Teaching Reading: Difficulties in Pronunciation
Difficulties in word pronunciation come up while reading and I encourage them to correct each other. I only step in when none of my students know how to say the word. Fairy tales usually have simple language but occasionally words such as “conscientious” pop up and I step in, but aside from that, I encourage the kids to help each other read.
Doing Puzzles After the Relay Reading
Read Once More a Little Faster
The Final 10 Minutes of the Reading Class
Same format, different story
by Rene Elliott
AC/DC's 'Money Talks' is a great ESL song, which can be used with older teenagers or adults when discussing money and wealth in class. The song is about how the rich and famous blow their money away on useless status symbols and a debauched lifestyle. The song can be used as a pre-text to a discussion about how the rich and famous live and how people change if they become wealthy.
To download the free ACDC 'Money Talks' lesson plan PDF, scroll down to the bottom and click the download link.
What to Do
Print, cut and glue/laminate the photo cards. One set for each group of 2-4 students. Put the cards aside for the song activity.
In the class
Ask the students what they would do if they won the lottery. You will likely get some sensible answers such as "I'd invest it" or "I'd buy my parents a house". Try to encourage some more wasteful answers, the more outrageous – the better! Introduce what 'Status symbols' are i.e. limousines, Rolex watches, private jets.
Write the best answers on the board. When you have got some good answers on the board, ask the class if this would be a wise thing to do. Put them into pairs to talk about why buying these things would be foolish. Get feedback after two minutes and have a general chat about student ideas.
Ask the class if there are any people in the world who behave like this. What do the students think about them? Now tell students that they are going to hear a song about how some rich people waste their money, but they don't care, because they can always get more! Give each group the lyrics sheet and a set of status symbol picture cards. Students must listen to the song/read the lyrics and put the picture cards in order.
Following the song, you can have a class discussion about money and what money does to people. I have written some conversation questions to kick you off, or you can use your own material.
To download the full TEFL lesson plan, click on the PDF link below.
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is considered by many to be the Beatles' finest album. 'She's leaving home' was the sixth track on the album and is about a girl who is unhappy at home and so runs away. Her parents do not understand why she has run away.
Activity One (Listening) – students are put into small groups to listen to the song and put the lyrics into the correct order.
Activity Two (Teacher/student talk) - short discussion about the song and why she ran away.
Activity Three (Writing) – students write the letter that the girl left at the top of the stairs for her parents to read.
Before class, copy and cut into strips a set of song lyrics for each group of three students.
Also copy out one blank letter page per student.
To download the free She's Leaving Home song lesson plan, then scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the download link.
In class, ask students what kind of problems teenagers might have with their parents i.e. homework conflicts, what they are allowed to wear, what time they are allowed to stay out until, boyfriends/girlfriends, etc. Ask the students why parents get annoyed; try to get your students to look at the problems from both sides.
Tell your class that they are going to listen to a song about a girl who has trouble sharing her feelings with her parents. Her parents love her, but don't always know how to show this love. Hand out one set of sentence strips to your students and explain that they must listen to the song and put the sentence strips into order. Give your students a few minutes before you start the song to read the strips and lay them out so they can read them properly as they listen. Play the song twice and then check to see if they have put the sentence strips into the correct order.
This is your chance to discuss the song with the students and to ask questions about feelings. Ask each group of three to talk with each other about the song and why the girl ran away. Allow the class to chat away and circle around to listen and help with language. As you begin to hear the groups quiet down, stop them and direct the conversation yourself (don't wait for absolute silence!!)
Ask the whole class questions about the song. Here are some sample questions you might ask, although you might think of other questions!
Why did the girl run away?
Why did she leave a letter?
What does it mean when the song says 'stepping outside she is free'? How could she 'live alone' when she was living with her parents?
Do you think the girl was at fault?
Were her parents wrong?
Your students are going to write their own letter that the girl left at the top of the stairs!
Ask your class what might have been written in the letter that was left at the top of the stairs for her mum to find. Would it have been a horrible letter or do your class think that it might have tried to explain her reasons for leaving? Will the girl ever come back?
Take lots of ideas from your class and don't rush this part as this will give your students ideas for what to put in their own letter! The blank letter page follows the lyric sentence strips.
To download the full She's Leaving Home lesson plan click below.