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Listening Skills: Beyond the Comprehension Approach.

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Ian Mitchell

on 6 May 2015

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Transcript of Listening Skills: Beyond the Comprehension Approach.

Ordering task.
Can you order the lesson stages into a typical Comprehension Approach type lesson?
How do you teach listening?
How do you stage your lessons?

How do you check your students' listening skills?

What is the Comprehension Approach?

What do you think this approach involves?

How do you think this approach is structured?
The Comprehension Approach
A lesson following CA typically follows this order:
- pre listening (for context and motivation).
- listening for gist
- pre-set questions or a pre-set task.
- listening for detail
- review of questions or the task
- inferring new lexis/ examination of functional language
The Comprehension Approach is the most common approach to listening in ELT.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

Does it test or does it teach?
The Advantages of the Comprehension Approach.
- It helps learners to pass exams.
- Listening does improve through its use.
- It does bring experience and exposure.

But should it be the most common way we approach listening in the classroom?
Listening Skills: Beyond the Comprehension Approach.
The Disdvantages of the Comprehension Approach.

How important is listening in the EFL classroom?

In what ways do your students listen?

How much time do you devote to listening skills in the classroom?

How do you check your students' listening skills?
How do you approach listening in the classroom?
It focuses on the
. It does not teach.
- It approximates that of an exam centre rather than that of a
forum to practise L2.
- There is a lack of connection between published texts and
what we actually hear in the real world.
-Students may become better listeners in the classroom but
in the real world.
There is more to testing listening in the ELT classroom.

John Field
talks about the importance of using
micro listenings
in order to help with the decoding of listening texts.

They are:
- concise
- relevant
- preferably authentic

If CA doesn't teach listening how can we identify what needs to be taught?
Authentic Listenings
What makes listening difficult for our learners?

Listen to the following radio programme, where two people are talking about facebook.

What's difficult about the text?
What made the text difficult?

-word boundaries
-resyllabification (where the consonant from one word migrates to the next word)
- speed
- accent

Top-down or bottom-up?
What is a top-down and a bottom-up approach?

How do they relate to a typical listening skills lesson?
Emphasises the listener's real world knowledge.
Where the listener draws on what they know
in order to assist themselves in constructing a coherant message.

Builds up the message word by word.
"From form to parsing" (
) where the following micro-processes take place:
auditory > phonetic > phonemic > syllabic > lexical > syntactic > semantic .
Are these either/ or alternatives?

Can they interact?

What happens if we rely on one approach too much?

What would happen if we used only a top-down approach?
"Please ensure that your body parts are placed inside your passports."
Why did Dr Newton hear the following when he was on a flight to Singapore, coming in to land?
To teach listening
we need to focus on the process
, as well as the product

To do this Dr Newton proposes that we implement
5 learning opportunities .....

1. Extensive meaning-focused listening.
2. Guided diagnosis of miscomprehension problems
3. Listening skills training and practice.
4. Listening strategy training.
5. Links to listening beyond the classroom.
Micro listenings.
So, how can we
listening in the classroom?

What makes listening difficult?

Unknown language.
Speed of delivery.
Background noise.
Lack of confidence.
Fatigue (long listenings).
Prosodic features (stress/tone/pauses..)
Micro listenings
Pronunciation as a listening skill.
- 25 % of student time should focus on listening to
- Language items from these should be
put into the process of meaningful use.
- Conditions of
be met.

Once we have provided meaningful listenings, can
our learners identify
sources of miscomprehension?
Marcus Wilson
suggests one way to do this........
John Field
suggests a greater focus on bottom-up techniques to
focus on the process
of listening by using easy to prepare,
5 min dictations
which focus on
three speech phenomena:

Reduced forms
(weak forms, chunks and contractions).
(including the glottal stop) -
people ->te

Comprehension strategies:
- Make predictions before listening.
- Tolerating partial understanding and piecing together messages with a partner.

Learning strategies
- Read with and without the script.
- Listen with attention to specific aspects of aural language (connected speech, tone units, pitch, stress, etc) via
acoustic drills
audio concordances
- The encouragement of learner autonomy is paramount
- Why not start a
learner contract
listening log
to motivate learners to listen at home on a regular basis?

- Set
specific tasks
and try to avoid suggesting "just listen to the radio". This could include
writing comprehension questions for another student
or by designating reflection and discussion periods (in class) for learners to discuss their extensive listening established by their learner contract.
John Field and Mark Hancock talk about the importance in using micro listenings to raise awareness of spoken features and aid listening.

These include
audio concordances
acoustic drills (5:13)
For more ideas..
How to teach listening by JJ

Lexical segmentation in L2 by John

's website:


Help with


To provide exposure to what
students will hear in the real
world it is
strongly recommended that we
provide our learners with
exposure to authentic listening
Full transcript