The importance of listening
II. The main part:
III. Vocabulary work: synonyms, antonyms, word families.
The importance of listening
Begin by establishing the importance of listening:
- We cannot develop speaking skills unless we also develop listening
skills; to have a successful conversation. Students must understand what
is said to them. Later, the ability to understand spoken English may
become very important (for listening to the radio, understanding foreign
visitors, studying, etc.). To develop this ability, students need plenty
of practice in listening to English spoken at normal speed.
- Listening to spoken English is an important way of acquiring the
language – of ‘picking up’ structures and vocabulary. In a situation
where learners are living in a country where English is the first
language, they plenty of ‘exposure’ to the language – they hear it all
the time, and can acquire it more easily than learners who do not hear
English spoken around them. So it need to give these learners as much
apportunity to listen to spoken English as possible.
In class, we are usually concerned with ‘Focussed’ listening: we listen
for a particular purpose, to find out information we need to know.
Examples of this kind of listening are: listening to a piece of
important news on the radio; listening to someone explaining how to
operate a machine. In these situations, we listen much more closely; but
we do not listen to everything we hear with equal concentration – we
listen for the most important points or for particular information.
Usually, we know beforehand what we are listening for (the things we
want to know), and this helps us to listen.
The debate about the use of authentic listening material is just as
fierce in listening material is just as fierce in listening as it is in
reading. If, for example, we play a tape of a political speech to
complete beginners, they won’t understand a word. You could argue that
such a tape would at least give them a feel for the sound of the
language, but beyond that it is difficult to see what they would get out
of it. If, on the other hand, we give them a realistic (though not
authentic) tape of a telephone conversation, they may learn much more
about the language – and start to gain confidence as a result.
Everything depends on level, and the kind of tasks that go with a tape.
There may well be some authentic material which is usable by beginners
such as pre-recorded announcements, telephone messages etc. More
difficult material may be appropriate for elementary students provided
that the questions they are asked do not demand detailed understanding.
Advanced students may benefit from scripted material provided that it is
interesting and subtle enough – and provided the tasks that go with it
are appropriate for their level.
Since, as it was said, listening to tapes is a way of bringing
different. Kinds of speaking into the classroom, it is wanted to play
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