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Listening Activities for a 1 on 1 class help!

 
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jesl



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:51 am    Post subject: Listening Activities for a 1 on 1 class help! Reply with quote

Hi guys,

I have a 1 on 1 class with a student who wants to increase their listening ability. At the beginning I thought this wasn't going to be all that difficult, but now I am starting to think either he doesn't need a one on one class and rather a cram school class for this or I am doing something wrong..

I have been doing activities from books, I read something and then ask him what I said, or ask him to answer specific questions about what he heard. I also have TOEFL books and activities.

I've also tried to tweak my speaking speed to throw him off and force him to pay more attention.

Q&A is mildly effected, it seems too much speaking for him, he wants to improve listening, though I have tried to explain there has to be a balance.

I am not sure what else to do. He's not complaining yet, but I suspect it may be coming soon unless I can find something else to throw into the class. I can't use multimedia materials as we don't really have access to that, unless someone here has some brilliant idea that uses them, then I am probably not interested. But would be interested in hearing some other ideas that people have used.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1306
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to tape the news from the local radio station and then get their copy of the script. I think you can do that from a major radio station like the BBC or CBC or CNN. Their text is often quite funny because they use shortcuts. At first the student and I read the text together and figured out the shortcuts and marks (pauses, emphasis), discussed words he didn't know and then we listened to the tape of the news and finally the student read the news as if he were an announcer.
At first we just got through one or two items, but he gradually increased his knowledge of vocabulary and background knowledge of news items as they are often repeated in different words over a number of days or weeks.
It provided up-to-date information that was often relevant to him and was great for discussions afterwards.
BBC in particular is good for vocabulary because I have heard they often base the TOEFL and IELTS tests on the BBC vocabulary. I don't know if this is true but it seems reasonable.
Students often said that if they could understand the newsreader on a radio station, who tears through the news at a great rate depending on a time limit, they could understand anyone. Of course, there is a great variety of accents in news readers around the world as well.
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jesl



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for that.

Though I am also looking for other activities that I can do without the use of multimedia. I don't really have the tools to record and playback these things during class. And because the class is in a public location, it is also slightly more disadvantageous to use those.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1306
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It costs so little to get a tape recorder these days and they are so small. No iPod or radio on your phone or his? You can share an earphone.

Music is such a great way to teach as well this way. You can get lyrics at Lyrics.com You just have to find out what kind of music he likes.
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jesl



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I appreciate your suggestions, and yes, I know they are cheap and I know we can share and earphone, the point is I am looking for alternative activities to doing this. I may consider to try this method, however the location we teach in is very noisy, which can be good at times, but not every time. I will consider. He is an intermediate adult worker who is very serious, he is not interested in learning music that I am sure, but for others I may consider that.

EDIT: I think I need to explain a little more. Firstly you can see that I have been a member here for about 4 years, you can also see my post count at only 24, typically I will not post here unless I have some tough students who I cannot really figure out a way to help or I have something to share. Whatever this guy can do at home I feel it probably isn't useful to do in class. Different environment perhaps is useful to some small extent, but... I feel playing music or playing a podcast is typically a waste of time, teacher sits, does nothing, and time goes by listening to whatever is playing. This guy could do that at home by himself, or better yet he could even pay less money and go to a cram school... However, I also don't wish to talk for most of the class, but it appears this is what I might have to do as what he wants is listening practice.

I thought of another idea just now is to say something and just have him write it down or repeat back to me what I said verbatim, that might be more effective...
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Sheila Collins



Joined: 22 Oct 2007
Posts: 46

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You haven't given your student's level, but I'm assuming it's fairly low. I'm also assuming his speaking and writing levels are low, so you'll have to vary the activities in order to get reasonable feedback. (I gather you've explained to him that the only way you can test his listening skills is by what he says or writes in reply.)

If I were taking on such a student, I might arrange the first few classes like this:

1) 10 minutes -- "small talk" question-and-answer (How's your day been? What d'you think of this weather?) Vary your phrasing, and keep your speed natural. He has to understand that conversation is done at a different speed than, say, news reporting.

2) 15 minutes -- reading a story. For each paragraph, have him give a summary or explain the main idea. Here, you can read relatively slowly and articulate more than you would in conversation.

3) 5 minutes -- have him ask you two or three questions about the story you read to him.

4) 20 minutes -- for homework, have him listen to a song (choose a song he'll like, with lyrics at his level). In these 20 minutes, he can write down the lyrics he believes he heard and then compare them to the real lyrics. Even if he's not "interested in learning music", this is an important activity so that he can learn to focus on context rather than the pronunciation of a particular word. If he's depending solely on letter sounds or syllabic stress, that would explain why he's having problems listening.

Later, you can amuse him with common misinterpretations of lyrics. http://www.kissthisguy.com/

5) 10 minutes -- choose a topic for each week (greetings, time, sports scores) and discuss the different ways people might phrase these. Ex. "Hello, how are you?"; "Hi, how's it going?"; "Hey, how've you been?"

Clearly, this student needs to improve his vocabulary as much as he needs to improve his listening skills. By co-ordinating the themes or topics for the week, you can surreptitiously build his vocabulary. Whole Language teachers would have him choose the topic for each week; that way, he's learning vocabulary that's relevant to his daily life.

As time goes on, you can add role-playing question-and-answer sessions (at the doctor's, or applying for a job), work on lists of homophones and words that sound similar, the differences between passive and active voice, etc. You could also read lists of multi-syllabic words, leaving out a middle syllable, and have him guess the missing syllable (ex. important/im-___-ant; impertinent/im-___-i-nent), or you could read partial sentences and have him guess the missing word.

As with anything else, the homework you assign him will be more useful than the classes themselves. If he's not listening to significant quantities of English music, radio, television or conversation each day, he won't progress at all.
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jesl



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sheila, thanks for the feedback!

The student's level is intermediate to high-intermediate, the can communicate their throughts and understand quite well actually. But has difficultly in meetings understanding different accents and different speeds. And our class is 2 hours each time.

Speaking levels are the same as above, writing levels the student has grammar issues.

And yes he is aware of how I can judge his listening ability.

1. Yep do that already.
2. Done this before, but not ever class, and usaully we take at least 20 minutes or so.
3. Yep do that.
4. Hmmm could be, I will consider this.
5. I have done some of that before but might add more. Yes he is well aware he needs to improve his vocaubulary which mostly he needs to do by himself, but I test him each week on the words he should have studied to make sure he understands not only the word but how to use it.

The student seems to fail to understand that a class cannot all be about listening, there has to be other components in the class such as he does need to speak, but it is something he is failing to understand. I need to try a different appoach to make it clear that he has to be active in the class, he can't just sit there and listen. It doesn't work that way.

I really like your idea of pushing him to figure out what is the syllable missing, that would be useful for many of my students. Is there a list of these available online or would I need to create a list?

He is doing homework, but like most students he is busy working and has little time to spend studying, though he is better than most, I am not sure how long each day he is studying but it seems like at least 30 minutes, which is by far longer than most people are willing to study. People just don't understand that if you don't put the work in you are not going to get anything out of it.... but the exuse is they are busy... it is really unfortuate.

EDIT: Is there a book out there that lists all the different ways things can be said? I have not found one that could work well enough in my classes over the years, wondering if anyone has come across one or perhaps produced one?

Sheila Collins wrote:
You haven't given your student's level, but I'm assuming it's fairly low. I'm also assuming his speaking and writing levels are low, so you'll have to vary the activities in order to get reasonable feedback. (I gather you've explained to him that the only way you can test his listening skills is by what he says or writes in reply.)

If I were taking on such a student, I might arrange the first few classes like this:

1) 10 minutes -- "small talk" question-and-answer (How's your day been? What d'you think of this weather?) Vary your phrasing, and keep your speed natural. He has to understand that conversation is done at a different speed than, say, news reporting.

2) 15 minutes -- reading a story. For each paragraph, have him give a summary or explain the main idea. Here, you can read relatively slowly and articulate more than you would in conversation.

3) 5 minutes -- have him ask you two or three questions about the story you read to him.

4) 20 minutes -- for homework, have him listen to a song (choose a song he'll like, with lyrics at his level). In these 20 minutes, he can write down the lyrics he believes he heard and then compare them to the real lyrics. Even if he's not "interested in learning music", this is an important activity so that he can learn to focus on context rather than the pronunciation of a particular word. If he's depending solely on letter sounds or syllabic stress, that would explain why he's having problems listening.

Later, you can amuse him with common misinterpretations of lyrics. http://www.kissthisguy.com/

5) 10 minutes -- choose a topic for each week (greetings, time, sports scores) and discuss the different ways people might phrase these. Ex. "Hello, how are you?"; "Hi, how's it going?"; "Hey, how've you been?"

Clearly, this student needs to improve his vocabulary as much as he needs to improve his listening skills. By co-ordinating the themes or topics for the week, you can surreptitiously build his vocabulary. Whole Language teachers would have him choose the topic for each week; that way, he's learning vocabulary that's relevant to his daily life.

As time goes on, you can add role-playing question-and-answer sessions (at the doctor's, or applying for a job), work on lists of homophones and words that sound similar, the differences between passive and active voice, etc. You could also read lists of multi-syllabic words, leaving out a middle syllable, and have him guess the missing syllable (ex. important/im-___-ant; impertinent/im-___-i-nent), or you could read partial sentences and have him guess the missing word.

As with anything else, the homework you assign him will be more useful than the classes themselves. If he's not listening to significant quantities of English music, radio, television or conversation each day, he won't progress at all.
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Sheila Collins



Joined: 22 Oct 2007
Posts: 46

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I really like your idea of pushing him to figure out what is the syllable missing, that would be useful for many of my students. Is there a list of these available online or would I need to create a list?


You'll have to make one up. Try using the new vocabulary you've assigned him in the last couple of weeks.

Quote:
The student seems to fail to understand that a class cannot all be about listening, there has to be other components in the class such as he does need to speak, but it is something he is failing to understand. I need to try a different appoach to make it clear that he has to be active in the class, he can't just sit there and listen. It doesn't work that way.


Well... nah, I've gotta play devil's advocate here: what if it did work that way? I've never tried it with an intermediate adult, but with beginner adults we just let them listen to us for a long time so they can get the rhythm of the language. If you have two hours to waste and this is what your student wants, why not just spend an hour of it talking and reading to him? If, after a month or so, he's made no progress, then you've made your point. (And if he has made progress, we've learned something.)

Quote:
EDIT: Is there a book out there that lists all the different ways things can be said? I have not found one that could work well enough in my classes over the years, wondering if anyone has come across one or perhaps produced one?


That would be quite the thick book. Can't say as I've found such a thing. I would concentrate on the dialect or accents he'll be working with the most.
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jesl



Joined: 15 Feb 2008
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did see a book a long time ago that did have some of these different ways of saying things, but it was in pieces. Even if it was a thick book it may be useful.

As fo the list of missing syllables.. hmmm that's going to take a while to create that. There should be some thing online that has some of them at least, a good place to start, but no matter this is a good idea I will start working on it.

As for the listening part of the class, 2 hours is too long for a teacher to talk no matter what. I have many students, and I don't have the voice to talk so long, nor do I want to. So even if it does work that way, it still doesn't work that way, I would much rather ask the student to find another teacher than to do this. I will consult with them and find out the percentage they expect this. Even with beginning students I will not talk the whole class. I might talk more, but not for 2 hours. After the first few classes I expect them to make an effort to try to tell me something, but perhaps you are right, I might have to give it a try for a month and see what happens even though I really don't want to do this, it goes against everything I know about teaching and against what I have learned through ESL..
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teretan



Joined: 21 Oct 2010
Posts: 3
Location: Novosibirsk, Russia

PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jesl
Hello! Maybe this will help somehow...
The background:
Just yesterday I started working with a very small group, just two girls, who are taking TOEFL on 20, May. My responsibility is listening and writing sections. Yesterday we did a diagnostic listening test... Their result was almost ZERO... So, now I have to think of a way to very quickly improve their listening skills.
So, this is what I thought of doing with them:
1. There are a lot of listening materials on-line which can be downloaded for free. Smile I'm going to make them listen for, say, 5-7 minutes and take notes. Then they'll use their notes and tell me what that was about. Next, we'll listen again and repeat everything word after word, practicing intonation, stress etc "en route".
2. There are also a lot of books (some of which can also be downloaded) focusing on pronunciation and accompanied by CDs. Well, my purpose is of course American English, but thinking of a problem in general, there's for example a series of 'English Pronunciation in Use' where apart from British pronunciation some varieties are also presented. I usually use this series for elementary and intermediate levels and the results are never dissatisfying.
3. If you can record some tongue-twisters, that also may be helpful. Make your student listen to one, then get him to say it as many times as necessary for him to hear himself, then listen to it again until he can hear not only every word but every sound clearly. I'm going to do that as well. Smile
And, all in all, judging from my experience of teaching students to speak and understand English in the environment where they don't hear or use it on everyday basis, I came to the conclusion that the best way to make them understand spoken English is to make them speak like that guy on the recording , to copy this or that manner of speaking. Very Happy And to force them to listen to themselves more than very carefully while copying, to identify themselves with that guy. My students usually tell me that, of course, after they've worked out what's been said it's easy for them to understand the same piece, but what about the others? After working in such a "regime" for some time they realize that they understand new pieces really much better. It's just a habit, after all! Very Happy
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longshikong



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 88

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've assigned videos for (optional) listening homework. I tell students to note precisely when (according to the counter) they had difficulty. I've shared with them the following typical challenges because I want them . There's not much they can do about 1 and 4 but 2 and 3 should help convince the student of the value of emulating native-speaker pronunciation. As for 5, Windows Media Player or phone apps such as Garageband enable variable speed playback.

1. new vocabulary; proper nouns;
2. known vocabulary or expressions not recognized by the listener due to
lack of speaking practice or differences between the pronunciation/stress of the student and that within the video;
3. dropped sounds, reductions, contractions, connected speech, etc.;
4. unclear pronunciation or obscured by ambient noise in the recording;
5. speed too fast

You may also want to download this free PDF. As the author (of Cambridge's Interchange) argues, the teaching of listening has been given short shrift in favor of speaking up until just recently:
Teaching Listening and Speaking: From Theory to Practice by Jack C. Richards
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