When studying a language, we often have a lot of practices to improve our writing and speaking skills. However, for listening, it is often overlooked and sometimes, ignored. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that Listening is the most crucial skill to develop. Without this skill, a student will not be able to comprehend well, and definitely, won’t be able to identify sounds which is important when practicing pronunciation.
In my years as an English as a Second language teacher, I find it hard to teach this skill mostly because there are no shortcuts for this. The key is practice. One of my challenges is to teach this skill in as much fun as possible for students of varying age range and English levels. One effective technique for me is VIDEO WATCHING. The effectivity of any activity depends on the teacher’s preparation.
To do this, I often look for a video online (TED videos are the most common) that is in line with my student’s interest. First, I inform my student about the title of the video then I ask them what they think the video is about. This helps them learn how to PREDICT the content and is also a great way to assess your student’s vocabulary range. Sometimes I present some of the words used in the video and explain them first (for lower level students)
Next, I ask them specific questions (Wh-questions) that they should answer after watching the video for COMPREHENSION checking. This helps them focus more on the video. But sometimes, I prepare a print out of the script of the speech. I try to choose and remove some of the words in the text. With this activity, I ask my students to fill in the missing words to help them practice NOTE-TAKING.
A short discussion will then happen. I always try to challenge my student’s by asking thought-provoking questions. It does not matter if sometimes you go off-topic. The most important thing is to help your student learn to expand their ideas and opinions. Let them develop their CRITICAL THINKING skills by assisting and guiding them when necessary. But don’t forget to be sensitive to their feelings too.
Finally, I ask my students to SUMMARIZE the key ideas and points they were able to understand from the speech. I often give them at least a minute or two to do so to practice their FLUENCY. In this part, we try to check if they were able to correctly predict the content of the video.
You can check this website for videos: https://www.ted.com/
For downloading the text of videos, go to this page: http://www.yousubtitles.com/