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

Listening and Reading

Now consider the following extract:

Students can improve their listening skills - and gain valuable language input - through a combination of extensive and intensive listening material and procedures. Listening of both kinds is especially important since it provides the perfect opportunity to hear voices other than the teacher's, enables students to acquire good speaking habits as a result of the spoken English they absorb and helps to improve their pronunciation.

Extensive listening

Just as we can claim that extensive reading helps students to acquire vocabulary and grammar and that, furthermore, it make students better readers (see below), so extensive listening (where a teacher encourages students to choose for themselves what they listen to and to do so for pleasure and general language improvement) can also have a dramatic effect on a student's language learning.

Extensive listening will usually take place outside the classroom: in the students' home, car or on personal MP3 players as they travel from one place to another. The motivational power of such an activity increases dramatically when students make their own choices about what they are going to listen to.

Material for extensive listening can be obtained from a number of sources. Many simplified readers are now published with an audio version on cassette or CD. These provide ideal sources of listening material. Many students will enjoy reading and listening at the same time, using the reader both in book form and on an audio track. Students can also have their own copies of coursebook CDs or tapes, or recordings which accompany other books written especially at their level. They can download podcasts from a range of sources or they can listen to English language broadcasts online, either as they happen or as 'listen again' events on websites such as www.bbc.co.uk/radio.

Of course, radio broadcasts are authentic and as such they may cause some learning problems for students at lower levels. However, in a short article about listening to the radio, Joseph Quinn advised students not to worry if they don't understand everything. They don't actually need to, and they're bound to take in a lot of language even if they are not aware of it. To make the most of this kind of input, students should set themselves a simple listening task, adopt a relaxed posture and 'lie down and doodle' while they listen (Quinn 2000: 14).

In order for extensive listening to work effectively with a group of students - or with groups of students - we will need to make a collection of appropriate tapes, CDs and podcasts, clearly marked for level, topic and genre - though John Field thinks that it is very difficult to judge the difficulty of a text and, therefore, difficult to grade listening (Field 2000a: 195). These can be kept, like simplified readers, in a permanent collection (such as in a self-access centre or on a hard disk so that students can either listen to them on the spot or download them onto their MP3 players). Alternatively, they can be kept in a box or some other container which can be taken into classrooms. We will then want to keep a record of which students have borrowed which items; where possible, we should involve students in the task of record-keeping.

The keenest students will want to listen to English audio material outside the classroom anyway and will need little encouragement to do so. Many others, however, will profit from having the teacher give them reasons to make use of the resources available. We need to explain the benefits of listening extensively and come to some kind of agreement about how much and what kind of listening they should do. We can recommend certain CDs or podcasts and get other students to talk about the ones which they have enjoyed the most.

In order to encourage extensive listening we can have students perform a number of tasks:

They can record their responses to what they have heard in a personal journal or fill in report forms which we have prepared, asking them to list the topic, assess the level of difficulty and summarise the contents of a recording. We can have them write comments on cards which are kept in a separate comments box, add their responses to a large class listening poster or write comments on a student website. The purpose of these or any other tasks is to give students more and more reasons to listen. If they can then share their information with colleagues, they will feel they have contributed to the progress of the whole group. The motivational power of such feelings should not be underestimated.

Intensive listening: using audio material

Many teachers use audio material on tape, CD or hard disk when they want their students to practise listening skills. This has a number of advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages: recorded material allows students to hear a variety of different voices apart from just their own teacher's. It gives them an opportunity to 'meet' a range of different characters, especially where 'real' people are talking. But even when recordings contain written dialogues or extracts from plays, they offer a wide variety of situations and voices. Audio material is portable and readily available. Tapes and CDs are extremely cheap, and machines to play them are relatively inexpensive. Now that so much audio material is offered in digital form, teachers can play recorded tracks in class directly from computers (either stand-alone or on a school network). For all these reasons, most coursebooks include CDs and tapes, and many teachers rely on recorded material to provide a significant source of language input.

Disadvantages: in big classrooms with poor acoustics, the audibility of recorded material often gives cause for concern. It is sometimes difficult to ensure that all the students in a room can hear equally well. Another problem with recorded material in the classroom is that everyone has to listen at the same speed, a speed dictated by the recording, not by the listeners. Although this replicates the situation of radio, it is less satisfactory when students have to take information from the recording (though see below). Nor can they, themselves, interact with the speakers on the audio track in any way and they can't see the speaking taking place. For many of these reasons, students may wonder why they should get involved with such material. Finally, having a group of people sit around listening to a tape recorder or CD player is not an entirely natural occupation.

Despite the disadvantages, however, we will still want to use recorded material at various stages in a sequence of lessons for the advantages we have already mentioned. In order to counteract some of the potential problems described above, we need to check audio and machine quality before we take them into class. Where possible, we need to change the position of the tape recorder or CD player (or the students) to offset poor acoustics or, if this is feasible, take other measures, such as using materials to deaden echoes which interfere with good sound quality.

An issue that also needs to be addressed is how often we are going to play the audio tracks we ask students to listen to. The methodologist Penny Ur points out that in real life, discourse is rarely ‘re-played' and suggests, therefore, that one of our tasks is to encourage students to get as much information as is necessary or appropriate from a single hearing (Ur 1996:108). It is certainly true that extracting general or specific information from one listening is an important skill, so the kind of task we give students for the first time they hear an audio track is absolutely critical in gradually training them to listen effectively. However, we may also want to consider the fact that in face-to-face conversation we do frequently have a chance to ask for clarification and repetition. More importantly perhaps, as Penny Ur herself acknowledges, this ‘one listening' scenario conflicts with our wish to satisfy our students' desire to hear things over and over again.

If students are to get the maximum benefit from a listening, then we should replay it two or more times, since with each listening they may feel more secure, and with each listening (where we are helping appropriately) they will understand more than they did previously. As the researcher John Field suggests, students get far more benefit from a lot of listening than they do from a long pre-listening phase followed by only one or two exposures to the listening text (Field 1998a, 2000b). So even when we set prediction and gist activities for Type 1 tasks, we can return to the recording again for Type 2 tasks, such as detailed comprehension, text interpretation or language analysis. Or we might play the recording again simply because our students want us to. However, we do not want to bore the students by playing them the same recorded material again and again, nor do we want to waste time on useless repetition.

As with reading, a crucial part of listening practice is the lead-in we involve students in before they listen to recorded material, for, despite John Field's comments about long pre-listening phases, what students do before they listen will have a significant effect on how successfully they listen, especially when they listen for the first time. In a recent study Anna Ching-Shyang Chang and John Read wanted to find out what kind of listening support was most helpful for students who were doing listening tests. Overwhelmingly, whether students were ‘high' or ‘low-proficiency' listeners, they found that giving students background knowledge before they listened was more successful than either letting them preview questions or teaching them some key vocabulary before they listened (Ching-Shyang Chang and Read 2006: 375-397). Of course, listening practice is not the same as testing listening; on the contrary, our job is to help students become better listeners by blending Type 1 and Type 2 tasks so that they become more and more confident and capable when they listen to English. But what this study shows is that activating students' schemata and giving them some topic help to assist them in making sense of the listening is a vital part of our role.

Who controls the recorded material?

We said that a disadvantage of recorded material was that students all had to listen at the same speed - that is the speed of the recording, rather than at their own listening speed. Nevertheless, there are things we can do about this.

Students control stop and start: some teachers get students to control the speed of recorded listening. They tell the teacher when they want the recording to be paused and when they are happy for it to resume. Alternatively, a student can be at the controls and ask his or her classmates to say when they want to stop or go on. lt is possible that students may feel exposed or embarrassed when they have to ask the teacher to pause the recording. One possible way of avoiding this is to have all students listen with their eyes closed and then raise their hands if they want the recording to stop. No one can see who is asking for the pause and, as a result, no one loses face.

Students have access to different machines: if we have the space or resources, it is a very good idea to have students listen to different machines in small groups. This means that they can listen at the speed of a small group rather than at the speed of the whole class. Having more than one machine is especially useful for any kind of jigsaw listening.

Students work in a language laboratory or listening centre: in a language laboratory all the students can listen to material (or do exercises or watch film clips) at the same time if they are in lockstep (that is all working with the same audio clip at the same time). However, a more satisfactory solution is to have students working on their own. All students can work with the same recorded material, but because they have control of their own individual machines, they can pause, rewind and fast forward in order to listen at their own speed.

The three solutions above are all designed to help students have more control even when they are members of a large group. Of course, students can go to learning/listening centres on their own and they can, as we saw above, listen on CD, tape or MP3 players (or computers) to any amount of authentic or specially recorded material in their own time.

Intensive listening: 'live' listening

A popular way of ensuring genuine communication is live listening, where the teacher and/or visitors to the class talk to the students. This has obvious advantages since it allows students to practise listening in face-to-face interactions and, especially, allows them to practise listening-repair strategies, such as using formulaic expressions (Sorry? What was that? I didn't catch that ), repeating up to the point where communication breakdown occurred, using rising intonation (She didn't like the ... ?), or rephrasing and seeing if the speaker confirms the rephrasing (You mean she said she didn't know anything? if the speaker says something like She denied all knowledge of the affair). Students can also, by their expressions and demeanour, indicate if the speaker is going too slowly or too fast. Above all, they can see who they are listening to and respond not just to the sound of someone's voice, but also to all sorts of prosodic and paralinguistic clues.

Live listening can take the following forms:

Reading aloud: an enjoyable activity, when done with conviction and style, is for the teacher to read aloud to a class. This allows the students to hear a clear spoken version of a written text and can be extremely enjoyable if the teacher is prepared to read with expression and conviction.The teacher can also read or act out dialogues, either by playing two parts or by inviting a colleague into the classroom. This gives students a chance to hear how a speaker they know well (the teacher) would act in different conversational settings.

Story-telling: teachers are ideally placed to tell stories which, in turn, provide excellent listening material. At any stage of the story, the students can be asked to predict what is coming next, to describe people in the story or pass comment on it in some other way.

Interviews: one of the most motivating listening activities is the live interview, especially where students themselves think up the questions. In such situations, students really listen for answers they themselves have asked for - rather than adopting other people's questions. Where possible, we should have strangers visit our class to be interviewed, but we can also be the subject of interviews ourselves. In such circumstances we can take on a different persona to make the interview more interesting or choose a subject we know about for the students to interview us on.

Conversations: if we can persuade a colleague to come to our class, we can hold conversations with them about English or any other subject. Students then have the chance to watch the interaction as well as listen to it. We can also extend storytelling possibilities by role-playing with a colleague.

Intensive listening: the roles of the teacher

As with all activities, we need to create student engagement through the way we set up listening tasks. We need to build up students' confidence by helping them listen better, rather than by testing their listening abilities. We also need to acknowledge the students' difficulties and suggest ways out of them.

  • Organiser: we need to tell students exactly what their listening purpose is and give them clear instructions about how to achieve it. One of our chief responsibilities will be to build their confidence through offering tasks that are achievable and texts that are comprehensible.
  • Machine operator: when we use audio material, we need to be as efficient as possible in the way we use the audio player. With a tape player this means knowing where the segment we wish to use is on the tape, and knowing, through the use of the tape counter, how to get back there. On a CD or DVD player, it means finding the segment we want to use. Above all, it means testing the recording out before taking it into class so that we do not waste time trying to make the right decisions or trying to make things work when we get there. We should take decisions about where we can stop the recording for particular questions and exercises, but, once in class, we should be prepared to respond to the students' needs in the way we stop and start the machine. If we involve our students in live listening, we need to observe them with great care to see how easily they can understand us. We can then adjust the way we speak accordingly.
  • Feedback organiser: when our students have completed the task, we should lead a feedback session to check that they have completed it successfully. We may start by having them compare their answers in pairs and then ask for answers from the class in general or from pairs in particular. Students often appreciate giving paired answers like this since, by sharing their knowledge, they are also sharing their responsibility for the answers. Because listening can be a tense experience, encouraging this kind of cooperation is highly desirable. It is important to be supportive when organising feedback after a listening if we are to counter any negative expectations students might have, and if we wish to sustain their motivation.
  • Prompter: when students have listened to a recording for comprehension purposes, we can prompt them to listen to it again in order to notice a variety of language and spoken features. Sometimes we can offer them script dictations (where some words in a transcript are blanked out) to provoke their awareness of certain language items.
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