Teaching Listening: Principles, techniques and technologies
I´ve decided to use the ideas in Lizzie´s presentation to reflect on what trails I´ve followed and where I am now to help me focus on what I can profit from by doing this session of the 2017 EVO.
I´ll start by sharing what I thought would be useful for my students, what proved not to work and what they have chosen to use as out of class self directed practice.
To begin with adult students have a very low self esteem when it comes to their listening skills performance. When asked how they rate themselves, they always give themselves a very low mark and often comment that they are helpless at listening. Consequently when I announce a listening task, the usual response is one of nervous expectancy as they prepare for the upcoming ordeal. No amount of reassuring or strategies seem enough to counteract this perception. The high affective barrier built around this skill results in an immediate rejection of the task or anything to do with trying to decode an oral message that does not come from the teacher. I often hear my students say: "I understand YOU, but it´s very difficult for me to understand a native speaker." This happens because as an experienced teacher (I´ve been teaching for over 20 years now!) I know that a strategy I often follow is that of automatically trying to adjust my grammar and vocabulary to one that matches the level of the student in front of me. This results in mutual intelligibility during the class, but unfortunately does not expose them to the nuances of trying to communicate with a stranger. To compensate this, I make sure to provide multiple sources of oral input for them to explore on their own outside the classroom walls.
This year I found and shared with my students the following links. Each of them was received with varied degrees of enthusiasm as follows:
I thought this was a wonderful idea: Song Lyrics with annotations. I was wrong. No interest to my student.
What I like about this kind of website is that they often give me new ideas such as this young singer´s video that contains the lyrics, in the form of the artist´s handwriting in the video, a feature I always thank when artists decide to use in their productions. Who knows maybe this one is more appealing to my students.
They have lots of content and I decided to share this link about Vermeer, because the conversation at one point in the lesson derived to that topic. However it turned out to be too demanding for my students, it appears it was more interesting for me rather than my students. My mistake!
My student was travelling to New York and had tickets for this show. Learning the lyrics beforehand proved to be both motivating and conductive to learning. It was a smash success.
A spontaneous google search for a karaoke version of the song turned out to be a fun classroom moment as we all joined in singing this classic song.
I have always been a fan of TED Talks and when I introduced this site I explained the whole process from what they were to how to look for talks that match your interest and how to activate the interactive transcript and how to use them for vocabulary learning. Another smash hit that give them plenty of content to browse on the Summer holidays. (which are right now by the way!)
Using Lizzie´s words I see I use the Menu approach in the form of a list of links in a shared google doc I design for each of my groups of students.
I have to make it clear that I am dealing with Pre-Intermediate/Intermediate students here, B1 level students are already equipped with the strategies to navigate these waters, given the appropriate guidance.
I also fully agree with the idea of getting to know your students preferences and interests. I always take them into account in my searches. About this I also have to say that most of the extra content that I decide to share with my students comes to me via my Twitter PLN, a carefully chosen group of educators who tweet educationally relevant material.