“How, exactly, do we teach listening skills??”
Of all the questions asked by teachers, the ones about listening skills seem to indicate the most genuine puzzlement.
Indeed, listening skills are their own unique and challenging issue, but this can be compounded by ineffective tasks that:
- aren’t staged or sequenced effectively
- don’t focus on useful listening strategies
- don’t give students the chance to listen successfully and build confidence
These issues are likely to have an even greater impact if teacher hasn’t set an engaging and clear context first.
So…here’s a few golden rules to help build more effective listening lessons.
Personalize and engage students before asking them to listen
Set a clear context, preferably using visuals to help activate the appropriate schemata
Ensure there is a clear task set and that tasks are varied – (e.g. a balance of top-down and bottom-up processing)
Ensure the tasks are appropriate to the text
Ensure there is ample time for feedback where the goal is on enabling hearing and practicing effective strategies, not on just getting the answer right
Set tasks that keep students engaged and concentrating throughout the text
Above all, what may simply be required is a shift in perspective. Once we see listening activities as opportunities to improve skills and strategies, instead of tests, the puzzle of just what is supposed to happen in listening lessons becomes much clearer.
These are two great articles outlining what the heck bottom-up and top-down processing is, and they both offer excellent advice for developing effective listening skills.
Posted by Tania