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ESL Listening Strategies

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Heidi Wagner Nottberg

on 1 May 2014

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Transcript of ESL Listening Strategies

"Language learning depends on listening"
Listening strategies are techniques or activities that contribute directly to the comprehension and recall of listening input.
Adjust your listening
Task 1
What's the main topic of the conversation?
- sports
- the weather
- the window
Listening strategies can be classified by how the listener processes the input.
Top-down strategies
are listener based; the listener taps into background knowledge of the topic, the situation or context, the type of text, and the language. This background knowledge activates a set of expectations that help the listener to interpret what is heard and predict what will come next.

Accept the fact that you are not going to understand everything.
Listen for Key Words
key phrases
to help you understand the general ideas. If you understand "New York", "business trip", "last year" you can assume that the person is speaking about a business trip to New York last year.

This may seem obvious to you, but remember that understanding
the main idea
will help you to understand
the detail
as the person continues to speak.
Listen for Context
Let's imagine that your English speaking friend says
"...I bought this great
at JR's. It was really cheap
and now I can finally listen to National Public Radio broadcasts."

You don't understand what a
is. If you focus on the word tuner you might become frustrated. However, if you think in
(the situation explained during the conversation) you probably will understand.

For example
is the past of buy,
is no problem and
is obvious. Now you understand: He bought something - the tuner- to listen to the radio.
A tuner must be a kind of radio!
This is a simple example but it demonstrates what
you need to focus on: Not
the word that you don't understand, but the words
you do understand.

ESL Listening Strategies
Thank you!
Do you agree?
What are listening strategies?
Top-down strategies include
Listening for the main idea
Drawing inferenses (kopplingar)
Keep calm when you do not understand - even if you continue to not understand for a long time.
Do not translate into your native language
The point is this:

What's important is not just what we're listening

It's what we're listening for.
You need to learn how to listen...
Rafael: I need some exercise. Do you want to go outside?Maybe we could play tennis?
Erika: Tennis? Look out the window. It's raining.
Rafael: Raining? Oh, no.
Task 2
What's the weather like?
- It's sunny.
- It's cold.
- It's raining

Task 3
Do the people go outside?
- yes
- no
Rafael: I need some exercise. Do you want to go outside?Maybe we could play tennis?

Erika: Tennis? Look out the window. It's raining.

Rafael: Raining? Oh, no.
How you read depended on which task you chose. Task one was reading for the gist or general understanding. Task two asked for specific information. Task three depended on inference. If you had been listening to the conversation instead of reading it, you would have adjusted your listening to fit your task.

Listening for gist
In the first task, all three answers -- sports, the weather
and the window --were part of the conversation.
the weather was the most important thing

Readers doing task one were looking for the
gist or main
They didn't focus on understanding everything. Rather,
they read tos ee what was important. Listening for gist works the same way. O
nly focus on the main ideas!

If one compares listening to the other receptive skill, reading,
listening for gist is a lot like skimming.

Gist listening is like standing in a waterfall. It washes
over you and you get the
general feeling/ understanding.
Task two involved looking for specific information: What is the weather like?

Looking for specific information doesn't mean reading and
processing every word to find the answer. Rather, it's about scanning for the needed data. The reader's focus was probably something like this:

Rafael: x xxxx xxxx exercise. xx xxx xxxx xx xx outside?
xxxxx xx xxxxx play tennis?
Erika: xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx window. xxxx raining.
Rafael: Raining? xx xx.

Listening for specific
Listening for specific information is quite similar
to the reading skill of scanning
. This is where you
often get into trouble. You try to catch everything,
often taking the time to mentally translate it into
your mother tongue.

With listening, it's impossible. It simply takes too long and you will miss out on information.
The key is to focus on what you are listening for.
Listening for specific information isn't understanding everything and using what you need.
It's understanding what you need and catching that.

Inference (kopplingar)
Task three was about inferring information. The question was simple enough:

Do they go outside? Of course they don't. It's raining.

Notice the they never say specifically that they aren't going to go outside. It
isn't necessary.
Inference is neither magic nor pure imagination.
It is hearing meaning that is there, even when the words aren't.
What are you listening for?
Listen for key words
Listen for context
Adjust your listening
Listen for gist
Listen for specific information.
Make inferences
Full transcript