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Опубликован: 18.11.2015 | Уровень: для всех | Доступ: платный
Лекция 6:

Listening and Reading


Some textbooks put emphasis on one or two skills and either omit or downgrade the others. Books which lay great importance on grammar often focus mainly on reading and writing, whereas audio-lingual course books concentrate on listening and speaking (they are however course books which have been written and need to be read). Before taking on a new class, look carefully at the textbook to see if it provides insufficient practice in any of the four skills. Plan ahead and be ready with supplementary material should the book be lacking in practice in any particular skill. Writing is the most commonly neglected, by the way!

Authentic texts, readers, recordings of dialogues, extracts from DVD and contemporary news downloads or articles from the internet will be very useful for this purpose. Start making your collection now!

Although real life communication rarely consists of only one of the four skills, it is important to look at the skill areas separately to begin with in order to identify what learners need to be able to do, and how we, as teachers, can best help them acquire that ability.

What mistakes do teachers make? Look at these confessions.

I translate words in texts for my students when they ask me.

I play the tape over and over as many times as the students want me to, usually about 4 or 5.

I usually give my students the tapescript to look at while they listen.

If I don’t they never understand.

I like having discussions, but the same students talk all the time.

I don’t use long texts in class because my students can’t read long texts.

I don’t do writing in class except writing down board work and some worksheet completion, as it wastes time. My students write for homework.

I translate unknown words for my students before they read a dialogue or text, otherwise they couldn’t read it.


Listening skills are so important that we have to make sure a range of training techniques are employed and not rely on students to 'pick up' by themselves what the language sounds like. This rarely happens, and leads to the situation where learners may be highly competent in written skills, or have an excellent knowledge of grammar, but are unable to comprehend the simplest of listening passages. It is essential that we recognise areas of potential difficulty and plan our listening activities and materials accordingly.

First, however, we need to consider problem areas in listening and then possible solutions to those difficulties.


It is convenient to think about listening in terms of two types of listening, Intensive listening and Extensive listening.


When our attention is focussed and we are listening for a particular purpose, we call this 'Intensive listening'. For example, we could be listening for details of the weather in our region, a train departure time or the football results of our favourite team. As we listen carefully, we select the information we require and ignore the rest. Because we know beforehand what we want to hear, it becomes easier to concentrate and focus our attention to listen selectively. There are several ways of training our students to develop the skills required for intensive listening.

a) Prediction

By asking students to predict what they are going to hear, based on a topic word or sentence, you are preparing your learners for what to expect, and guided questions help them decide what to listen for, and keep them focussed on the main points. This technique can be repeated towards the end of the listening text by asking students to predict the ending. This can be done in pairs or groups and is particularly successful with narratives.

This keeps students actively involved in the listening process.

b) Questions

Different types of exercises will ensure that listening skills are being developed. As with reading skills, exercises can be set midway as well as at the end of the listening text, and can be in the form of true/false questions, 'wh' questions (who, what, where), sentence completion, gap-filling, error correction, table filling, form-filling etc.


There are times when we listen to something in order to get a general idea of the context or 'gist' rather than for specific details. Sometimes we need to recognise the function of the dialogue, for example, is the speaker making arrangements, expressing an opinion, making an enquiry or even having a row? At higher levels, intermediate and above, students need practice in recognising attitude (by work on intonation patterns) and by recognising changes in direction or topic when listening to speeches, or longer listening passages, or taking notes in university lectures.

Exercises in extensive listening

A general pre-set question given before listening can prepare the students and encourage them not to worry about details but to concentrate on understanding the general idea. Questions given afterwards such as 'How would you describe A's feelings?' allow them to interpret what they have understood without worrying about specifics.

It is almost impossible for students to do both. They can’t listen intensively for a long time and they don’t notice mood while they are listening for precise information. Check tasks to make sure that you do not have them trying to do too many things at once.


Here are two different listening activities:

a) listening to a group discussing the British Royal Family and deciding whether the general feeling is pro- or anti- Royalists

b) listening to the travel news for motorway hold-up information

The first involves extensive listening.

The second intensive listening for specific information.

In a) what helps you identify the general feeling of each of the speakers? Who is the most negative or positive? A B or C?

In b) what specific information/key words would you be listening out for if you were hearing this in the car south of Knutsford on the M6?

Transcript (a)

(3 speakers chatting)

A: Yeah, but I mean what’s the point of them? They don’t do anything very much to help the country -

B: And it’s not like I mean Prince Charles - he may or may not get to be King - its about being useful -

C: The Queen’s all right though and she’s doing well for 80 something - how old is she now? Her mum lived to be over 100.

B: The Queen should be in good shape - wish I had that many people to look after me when I’m old and it’s not real work like -

C: Yeah, all those dinners and stuff like parties - but I bet she gets bored, poor thing - oh no another local Balmoral special.

A: The main problem is there are too many of them ‘minor Royals’.

B: I agree how many is it now?

A: Loads, I dunno.

Transcript (b)

News is coming in now of diversions in place northbound below Junction 19 for Knutsford on the M6. The northbound carriageway is completely closed due to a lorry shedding its load of chocolate sauce across all three lanes. Northbound drivers are being directed to leave the motorway at junction 18 for Holmes Chapel and rejoin the motorway at Junction 19. The diversions will be in place for about 6 hours and motorists are advised to use other routes if possible as tailbacks are building up back to Junction 16.


Every text that you use in the classroom needs to be looked at carefully. If you are going to design useful questions then you need to be able to identify the important points. It’s no use getting involved in teaching student about ‘Balmoral’ in Transcript (a) or ‘chocolate sauce’ in Transcript (b)!

Available materials

Now we have arrived at our first module on texts, look around at your situation with regards to materials. If you are not teaching, what is your possible future destination? If you are teaching, how do you rate the available resources?

TESOL teaching situations are very varied. Some teachers may barely have their own stable internet connection in their local internet cafe and no printer. Others may have interactive white boards and projectors in every classroom. Cassette recorders are still used in a lot of schools and some of those do not even have a recording facility. While this module explores the different possibilities, it will be up to you to adapt to your situation.

For TASK 2 you are going to use a news broadcast as a stimulus for listening practice. First here is some practice designed to get you thinking about questions and what information students are able to access.


Look at the transcript below taken from a news bulletin and make notes on the following questions:



President Bush has made a direct appeal to Russia to embrace plans for a missile defence system in mainland Europe. In a speech in the Czech Republic, Mr. Bush said that the cold war was over, and Russia had nothing to fear. He went on to criticise the Russian government’s record on democracy.

Channel Four is ignoring a request by Princes William and Harry not to show images taken in the aftermath of their mother’s fatal car crash. A letter from the Princes’ private secretary said they felt the pictures, to be broadcast in a documentary about Princess Diana’s death, showed gross disrespect for her memory. The Conservatives described Channel Four’s decision as deeply regrettable, but the Liberal Democrats say it’s in the public interest for the images to be shown.

The Conservative leader, David Cameron, has denied making a U-turn over Grammar Schools. A row broke out within the party after it was announced that a policy of supporting the building of new grammar schools had been dropped. Now Mr. Cameron has said there might be a few in selected areas. In a BBC interview he insisted he hadn’t buckled under pressure.

A man has appeared in court charged with the murder of a 32 year old Kate Beadley, who disappeared after going out on a date in West London. Police discovered a woman’s body in woods near Watford yesterday. Carl Joseph Taylor, who’s twenty-seven, was remanded in custody until September.

The former White House aide to the US Defence Secretary, Dick Cheney, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for perjury. Louis Libby lied to an investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA agent to the press.

The Palestinian president, Mahmood Abass, has marked the 40th anniversary of the start of the six-day Middle East war of 1967 with a warning that his people are on the brink of civil war. He said internal fighting was at least as dangerous as the occupation which followed Israel’s capture of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

In the City, the 100 Share Index closed down 21 points, at 6642 (read as sixty six - forty two)

And the weather tonight will stay dry with clear periods, and some misty cloud across eastern and central areas. Tomorrow, that cloud will clear, leaving warm sunshine. The best of the sun will be in the west.

  1. What level do you think you could use this for and why?
  2. What words and phrases might students find difficult?
  3. What topics in the bulletin are fairly easy to understand?
  4. What topic do you think is the most obtuse or complicated?
  5. Underline the numbers in the transcript.
  6. Underline the names in the transcript.
  7. Can you find any areas of vocabulary that you could exploit in a lesson?
  8. What section of the listening would you choose for an intensive listening activity?
  9. What section would you not focus on at all?


1. This is not suitable for beginners but low intermediates could access this text in the form of a gap fill listening activity focusing on certain words:

President Bush has made a direct appeal to Russia to embrace plans for a ………..system in mainland Europe. In a speech in the Czech Republic, Mr. Bush said that the ………was over, and Russia had nothing to fear. He went on to criticise the Russian government’s record on ……………

Note that the missing words are thematically linked and could be a basis for discussion. Do not choose words to miss out at random.

2. The students will struggle with idioms like making a U turn and buckling under pressure. Concepts such as the idea of ‘in the public interest’ and ‘gross disrespect’ are also hard work. There are a number of words connected with crime that will need to be dealt with - perjury, remanded in custody, leaked information and so on.

3. The two easiest topics to understand are the weather and the body found in the woods as these are written in a very straightforward way.

4. The hardest one without explanation is probably the one on the Princes. The sentence structure and flow of ideas is not straightforward, there is a concentration of difficult vocabulary and the story is difficult to pin down as it mentions the Royal Family and the TV and two political parties!

5 and 6. Note that you can use numbers as a focus IF there is some teaching point to be gained - for example a lesson about phrases using numbers like marked the 40th anniversary or sentenced to 30 months. Names should not be asked for - you could possibly ask the students to provide Russia but no others.

7. The most obvious vocabulary area is crime and punishment - perjury, remanded in custody, sentenced, charged with murder, in the public interest etc.

8. Probably choose the murder? For a longer section maybe that and the stories either side of it.

9. You do not need to include the share index or the weather unless you want to do a lesson on weather!

Вадим Бондарь
Вадим Бондарь
Как найти и выбрать тьютора?
Ирина Суханова
Ирина Суханова
здравствуйте! я прохожу курс учитель англ. языка. я отправила тест №1, как долго его будут проверять.
Павел Плахотник
Павел Плахотник
Украина, Днепропетровск
Анатолий Федоров
Анатолий Федоров
Россия, Москва, Московский государственный университет им. М. В. Ломоносова, 1989