Recently there has
been an emphasis placed on listening skills, through the introduction of
the new Course of Study and Oral & Aural Communication subjects at SHS. When it comes to communication, listening and
speaking abilities are of similar importance. If you cannot understand what is being said, you
cannot respond. It is therefore
impossible to participate in a conversation.
One AET had this
experience. Upon asking a Junior High School student
an easy question like, "Do you like sports?" the response was
"え、わからない". Sometimes students don't listen to the question being
asked by the AET. They either worry about
answering the question, or they expect not to understand the question.
As with reading,
students need to learn to listen for the important information. Exposing them to situations where there is a real
need to listen (e.g. Classroom English) will help improve their ability. Passive listening (where students don't respond or do
a task) has little educational value because students will not try to
understand what is being said.
activities should have a purpose. To only catch words
is not a good reason to listen to something. The students must be able to
understand the meaning of the words they hear. As with all activities, it is
important to have suitable and interesting topics. If the content is boring, people will not listen, even
in their native language!
is essential for communication. Your students need
regular practice in order to improve their listening ability. Through exposure to task listening activities and the
English of a native speaker, it is easy to gain listening competence.
Suggestions for Authentic Listening Activities
usually regarded as something passive, but it is not always passive. It can be, and should be, made active! Listening to native speakers and authentic oral
material and checking for comprehension is an effective means of employing
active listening practice.
For example, record
movie reviews, short interesting news items from CNN, BBC World, NHK, (the bilingual editions are useful so
you can listen to both versions) or even record excerpts from funny TV
shows. Ask your students to listen to the
excerpt and answer some questions you have prepared.
Even if they don't
fully understand the English, pictures can help students understand the
outline of the story or feature. Excerpts like these
are very good for training the students to grasp the rough outline of a
subject. Students will become more familiar with
the English sounds and words and their communicative ability will improve.
the students is also very positive. It raises interest
and encourages students to listen to the recorded English closely. Re-play the tape or video a few times so that all the
students have a chance to catch the words or gist of the text. The AET's may be well-suited for locating materials
for this activity.
Remember that the
tape attached to the textbook is not always effective, because the students
can easily see the text. The tape is,
however, effective to confirm the correct pronunciation.
Record the weather
forecast from NHK, BBC, or CNN. Ask your AET to record
something easier if these broadcasts are too difficult. Give the students a map with a lot of blanks. Have them fill in the blanks while they are listening
to the tape.
Most students are
interested in cooking, especially foreign food. Show them some recipes and terms for cooking. Watch a TV cooking program in English and check how
much the students can understand. The students can
make a recipe of a Japanese dish in English and then make a book of all
their recipes. Or, the AET can
read the recipe aloud and the students can follow the instructions to cook
a real dish. Did they all make the same thing?!
Pictures and maps
are always very helpful for student activities. Give the students a map of a foreign town or city and
ask them to find the right things in the right places. After they get used to it, give them a similar
picture or photograph and ask them to describe what is in the picture.