Teaching Speaking & Listening

Teaching Speaking & Listening through Communicative Activities Erin Lowry Senior English Language Fellow Workshop for Manizales Bilingüe February 17, 2009


A basic workshop for public school teachers on teaching listening and speaking in an EFL context

Transcript of Teaching Speaking & Listening

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Teaching Speaking & Listening through Communicative


Erin LowrySenior English Language Fellow

Workshop for Manizales Bilingüe February 17, 2009

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The Challenge

• To integrate skills

• To provide opportunities for authentic communication contexts

• To give a reason for communication (information gaps)

• To assess these skills in an objective manner

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What Makes Listening Difficult?

• Clustering• Repetition• Reduced forms• Performance variables• Colloquial language• How fast someone speaks• Stress, rhythm, and intonation• Interaction

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Principles for Teaching Listening

1. Expose students to different ways of processing information

– Bottom-up vs. Top-down– Interactive

2. Expose students to different types of listening

3. Teach a variety of tasks4. Consider text, difficulty, and authenticity

Helgeson, 2003

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Types of Classroom Listening

• Reactive• Intensive• Responsive• Selective• Extensive• Interactive

Brown, 2001

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Principles for Designing Listening Techniques

• Use techniques that are intrinsically motivating• Use authentic language and contexts• Carefully consider the form of listeners’

responses• Encourage the development of listening

strategies• Include bottom-up and top-down listening


Brown, 2001

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Successful Listening Activities

• Purpose for Listening– A form of response (doing, choosing, answering,

transferring, condensing, duplicating, extending, conversing)

• Repetition depends on objectives and students’ level

• A motivating listening text is authentic and relates to students’ interests and needs

• Have the skills integrated

• Stages: Pre-task , While-task, Post-task

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Activities for Beginners

• Top-down Activities– identifying emotions, understanding meaning of

sentences, recognizing the topic

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Activities for Beginners

• Bottom-up Activities– discriminating between intonation contours,

phonemes, or selective listening for different morphological endings, word or sentence recognition, listening for word order

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Activities for Beginners

• Interactive Activities– listening to a word and brainstorming related

words, listening to a list and categorizing the words, following directions

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Listening Strategies• Teach student how to listen

– Looking for keywords– Looking for nonverbal cues to meaning– Predicting a speaker’s purpose by the context of the

spoken discourse– Associating information with one’s existing

background knowledge (activating schema)– Guessing meanings– Seeking clarification– Listening for the general gist– For tests of listening comprehension, various test-

taking strategies

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Easy-to-plan Pre-Listening Activities

• Brainstorming

• Think-Pair-Share

• Word Webbing/Mind Mapping

• Team Interview

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Easy-to-Plan Listening Tasks

• Agree or disagree (with explanation)• Create Venn diagrams• List characteristics, qualities, or features• Strip story (sequencing game)• Match speech to visuals• Compare and contrast to another speech or

text• Give advice

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More Listening Tasks

• Compare and contrast to your own experience• Create your own version of the missing section• Plan a solution to the problem• Share reactions• Create a visual• Reenact your own version

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Activities in a Listening Lesson

• Introductory – Intro to topic of the listening text and activities

that focus on the language that will be used• Main

– Comprehension activities developing different listening subskills

• Post– Learners talk about how a topic in the listening

text relates to their own lives or give opinions

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Easy to Plan Post-listening Assessments

• Guess the meaning of unknown vocabulary• Analyze the speaker’s intentions• List the number of people involved and their

function in the script• Analyze the success of communication in the

script• Brainstorm alternative ways of expression

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Distinctive Feature









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What Makes Speaking Difficult?

• Clustering• Redundancy• Reduced forms• Performance variables• Colloquial language• Rate of delivery• Stress, rhythm & intonation• Interaction

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Tips for Teaching Speaking

• Use a range of techniques• Capitalize on intrinsic motivation • Use authentic language in meaningful

contexts• Give feedback and be careful with corrections• Teach it in conjunction with listening• Allow students to initiate communication• Encourage speaking strategies

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Fluency vs. Accuracy

• Speaking at normal speed, without hesitation, repetition, or self-correction, and with the smooth use of connected speech

• Speaking using correct forms of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation

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Principles of Teaching SpeakingBeginners

• Provide something for the learners to talk about

• Create opportunities for students to interact by using groupwork or pairwork

• Manipulate physical arrangements to promote speaking practice

Bailey, 2005

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Principles of Teaching SpeakingIntermediate

• Plan speaking tasks that involve negotiation for meaning

• Design both transactional and interpersonal speaking activities

• Personalize the speaking activities whenever possible

Bailey, 2005

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Tasks & Materials

1. Conversations, guided conversations & interviews

2. Information gap & jigsaw activities3. Scripted dialogues, drama, & role-play4. Logic puzzles5. Picture-based activities6. Physical actions in speaking lessons7. Extemporaneous speaking

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Communicative Tasks

• Motivation is to achieve some outcome using the language

• Activity takes place in real time• Achieving the outcome requires participants

to interact• No restriction on language used

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Example Communicative Tasks

• Information gaps• Jigsaw activities• Info gap race (p. 83)• Surveys• Guessing games

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• Email: [email protected]

• Website: http://colombotech.pbwiki.com

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References• Bailey, K.M. (2005). Practical English Language Teaching: Speaking. New York: McGraw-Hill. • Bishop, G. (2006). AP State English Lecturers Retraining Program Teacher’s Handboook.

Senior ELF Seminar Series given in Hyderabad, India. • Brown, H.D. (2001). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy.

White Plains, NY: Longman.• Helgesen, M. (2003). Listening. In D. Nunan (Ed.). Practical English Language Teaching. New

York: McGraw-Hill.• Liao, X.A. (2001). Information Gap in Communicative Classrooms. EL Forum, 39 (4). Retrieved

from http://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol39/no4/p38.htm.• Lynch, T. (2003). Communication in the language classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.• Richards, J.C. & Renandya, W.A. (eds.) (2002). Methodology in language teaching: an

anthology of current practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.• Slagoski, J.D. (2006). Teaching Listening Skills. Senior ELF Seminar given in Samara, Russia.

Retrieved from http://slagoski.googlepages.com/downloadpresentations.