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The Basic Things I’ve Learned About Teaching Listening

During my journey of learning how to teach listening, I learned these six myths about listening teaching first, then I knew that listening is a demanding process, not only because of the complexity of the process itself but also because there are some factors that affect it and each factor has certain characteristics.

Factors Affect Listening Process 

Listening does not have to rely on the availability of a cassette or pre-recorded material. Most listening is teacher talk. In this case, there are four factors that affect the listening process. They are as follows:

1. The Listener

Interest in a topic increases the listeners’ comprehension; the listeners may tune out topics that are not interesting.

Further, listeners who have the opportunity to listen to clarification and definitions of the points they don’t understand are more likely to make sense of the incoming information.

2. The Speaker

Colloquial language and reduced forms make comprehension more difficult. The extent to which the speaker uses these language forms impacts comprehension. The more exposure the listeners have to them, the greater their ability to comprehend.

The speaker’s rate of delivery may be too fast, too slow, or have too many hesitations for listeners to follow.

Awareness of the speaker’s corrections and use of rephrasing (“er.. . I mean . . .That is . . .”) can assist the listeners. Learners need practice in recognizing these speech habits as clues to understand the meaning.

3. Content

Content that is familiar is easier to comprehend than content with unfamiliar vocabulary or for which the listeners have insufficient background knowledge.

4. Visual Support

Visual support, such as video, pictures, diagrams, gestures, facial expressions, and body language, can increase comprehension if they are clear for the listeners.

How To Develop Students’ Listening Skills

Here are five things I usually consider to develop my students’ listening skills

1. Give Confidence

You should not expect them always to understand every word and they should know this.

2. Explain Why To Listen

Make sure the students are clear about why they are listening, and what the main point or purpose of the activity is.

3. Develop Specific Strategies For Listening

Help students develop specific strategies for listening. An important strategy that the teacher should teach is “Intelligent Guesswork”. Students should depend on their background knowledge to work out something they are not sure of.

4. Set Specific Listening Tasks.

Think of listening in three stages, pre-listening, while-listening, and post-listening and have tasks for each stage. Here are five tasks I regularly use.

How To Make Listening Easier For Students 

There are a number of ways that I try to be more comprehensible and make listening easier for my students. Here are some of them: 

  • Limit the topics talked about to what is familiar to the students.
  • Keep sentences short and grammatically simple.
  • Use dramatization to hold the students’ attention.
  • Emphasize keywords.
  • Frequently repeat and paraphrase.

And, here is a framework to design any listening lesson

You can use this framework to design any listening lesson to develop your students’ listening skills and increase their language awareness as well.

To read this framework and other valuable articles on ELT,

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