Teaching Listening

A. The Importance of Listening

1. Listening is the most common communicative activity in daily life: "we can expect to listen twice as much as we speak, four times more than we read, and five times more than we write." (Morley, 1991, p. 82)

2. Listening is also important for obtaining comprehensible input that is necessary for language development.

B. What is involved in listening comprehension?

speech perception (e.g., sound discrimination, recognize stress patterns, intonation, pauses, etc.)

word recognition (e.g., recognize the sound pattern as a word, locate the word in the lexicon, retrieve lexical, grammatical and semantic inforamtion about the word, etc.)

sentence processing (parsing; e.g., detect sentence constituents, building a structure frame, etc.)

construct the literal meaning of the sentence (select the relevant meaning in case of ambiguous word)

hold the inforamtion in short-term memory

recognize cohesive devices in discourse

infer the implied meaning and intention (speech act)

predict what is to be said

decide how to respond



Conclusion: listening is not a passive process. It involves both bottom-up and top-down processes and requires the use of non-linguistic as well as linguistic knowledge.

C. Principles of Teaching Listening

1. Listening should receive primary attention in the early stage of ESL instruction.

2. Maximize the use of material that is relevant to students' real life.

3. Maximize the use of authentic language.

4. Vary the materials in terms of speakers' gender, age, dialect, accent, topic, speed, noice level, genre,

5. Always ask students to listen with a purpose and allow them to show their comprehension in a task.

6. Language material intended to be used for training listening comprehension should never be presented visually first.

D. Ideas and Activities for Teaching Listening

1. Sample Activities in Ur (1996, pp. 115-117)

2. Examples of Listen-and-Do Activities (from Morley, 1991, pp. 93-102)

A. Listening and Performing Actions and Operations

1. drawing a picture, figure, or design
2. locating routes of specific points on a map
3. selecting or identifying a picture of a person, place, or thing from description
4. performing hand or body movements as in songs and games such as "Simon Says" or "Hokey Pokey"
5. operating a piece of equipment, such as a camera, a recorder, a microwave oven, a pencil sharpener
6. carrying out steps in a process, such as steps solving a math problems, a science experiment, a cooking sequence.

D. Listening, Evaluation, and Manipulating Information

1. writing information received and reviewing it in order to answer questions or to solve a problem
2. evaluating information in order to make a decision or construct a plan of action
3. evaluating arguments in order to develop a position for or against
4. evaluating cause-and-effect information
5. projecting from information received and making predictions
6. summarizing or "gistizing" information received
7. evaluating and combining information
8. evaluating and condensing information
9. evaluating and elaborating or extending information
10. organizing unordered information received into a pattern of orderly relationship --chronological sequencing, spatial relationships, cause-and-effect, problem-solution

B. Listening and Transferring Information

1. listening and taking a telephone or in-person message by either transcribing the entire message word-for-word or by writing down notes on the important items
2. listening and filling in blanks in a gapped story game (in order to complete the story)
3. listening and completing a form or chart
4. listening and summarizing the gist of a short story, report, or talk
5. listening to a "how to" talk and writing an outline of the steps in a sequence (e.g.,how to cook something, how to run a piece of equipment, how to play a game)
6. listening to a talk or lecture and taking notes

E. Interactive Listening and Negotiating Meaning Through Questioning/Answering Routines
Question Types
1. Repetition: Could you repeat the part about ...?
2. Paraphrase: Could you say that again? I don't understand what you mean by...
3. Verification: Did I understand you to say that...? In other words you mean.... Do you mean ...?
4. Clarification: Could you tell me what you mean by ...? Could you explain...? Could you give us an example of ...?
5. Elaboration: What about ...? How is this related to...?
6. Challenge: What did you base ... on? How did you reach...? Why did you...?

C. Listening and Solving Problems

1. word games in which the answers must be derived from verbal clues
2. number games and oral story arithmetic problems
3. asking questions in order to identify something, as in Twenty Questions
4. classroom versions of password, jeopardy, twenty questions in which careful listening is critical to questions and answers or answers and questions
5. "minute mysteries" in which a paragraph-length mystery story is given by the teacher (or a tape), followed by small group work in which students formulate solutions
6. a jigsaw mystery in which each group listens to a tape with some of the clues, then shares information in order to solve the mystery
7. riddles, logic puzzles, intellectual problem-solving

F. Listening for Enjoyment, Pleasure, and Sociability

listening to songs, stories, plays, poems, jokes, anecdotes, teacher chat.

Teaching Speaking

A. The importance of speaking:

1. speaking as goal of ESL instruction

2. speaking as a means of language acquisition: the output hypothesis

B. What is involved in speaking?

--determine preverbal message
--determine register and other sociolinguistic features
--decide what words to use
--retrieve lexical, grammatical, and semantic information from the lexicon
--build a syntactic frame
--build phrases and arrange them in order
--articulate sentences
--monitor output
--use non-verbal cues

C. Principles of Teaching Speaking

1. Help students overcome their initial reluctance to speak. Be encouraging; provide opportunity; start from something simple;

2. Ask students to talk about what they want to talk about.

3. Ask students to talk about what they are able to talk about.

4. Provide appropriate feedback.

5. Combine speaking with listening and reading

6. Incorporate the teaching of speech acts in teaching speaking.

D. Ideas and Activities for Teaching Speaking (Ur, 1996)