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Teaching Listening Comprehension

Format and Presentation of the Listening Exercise

Step 1: Selection of the teaching point.

The teacher should carefully select the exercises so that they are not beyond the students' level of proficiency.

Step 2: Focusing of students' attention.

Students must know what they are going to do to complete the assigned task. An example should always be given at the beginning of the exercise.

Step 3: Listening and completion of exercise.

If teachers read the material to the class for a listening exercise, they need to be sure to read with normal speed and intonation. Slowing down distorts stress and intonation. Instead of reading slower, teachers can read the exercise over again.

Step 4: Feedback on performance.

Checking the students' answers is a way of letting the students know how they did and how they are progressing. Teachers and students should not have a pass/fail attitude. The easiest way to give students feedback on their performance is to supply them with an answer key and have them correct their own answers. Teachers should keep track of the students' progress so that they can give praise to those who do well and help to those who are having difficulties.

Teaching Technique

Teach students how to concentrate on listening instead of day dreaming

Have students listen to a talk for a few minutes. The length of time depends on the students' level. While students listen to the talk, they are to make a mark on a piece of paper every time they think about something which is not related to the talk. After listening, they report to the teacher how their thoughts were distracted (Based of the Davis and Rinvolucri's activity "Head chatter" in The Confidence Book: Building trust in the Language Classroom.)

Have students listen to a talk. Whenever they hear "and" in the talk, they are to make a mark on a piece of paper. For advanced level students, have them make a mark whenever they hear verbs, prepositions, etc.

Teach listening manner

Explain to students:

Establishing eye contact.

Listening to feedback through facial expressions, gestures such as nodding, and sounds such as "um" to express their understanding, agreement or disagreement.

Restating to clarify meaning. Ask questions such as "You have just said.... Did you mean...?"

When and how to interrupt a speaker or a conversation.

Increase auditory memory


Give a sentence to students and have them repeat it back. Some people might think that this can not be a listening comprehension exercise because students can mimic the teacher without understanding the meaning. But in fact, students can not repeat back coherent discourse without comprehending the meaning in their foreign language. The more advanced the students are the longer the sentences can be.

Strip story

Take a story and break it into pieces. Give a sentence to each student and have him read the sentence out loud. Students figure out the entire story.

Fill in the chart

The student has a blank chart which is categorized into name, home town, hobbies, pets, etc. While the teacher reads a paragraph which gives information on 5 to 6 people, the blank chart is facing own in front of the student. After the teacher finishes reading the paragraph, the student turns over the chart and fills in as much information as he can remember.

Understanding messages at the sentence level

Total physical response

The teacher gives the students a series of command forms, and the students respond to them physically: "Stand up; Walk to the window; Open the window," etc. Another variation of this exercise is that the teacher also acts when she is giving the command. Students need to listen carefully and respond. Use a higher level of vocabulary and grammar structure for advanced level students.


The teacher gives the students a series of command forms, and the students respond to them by drawing pictures. The instructions can be prerecorded on a tape. Using a tape gives two advantages. First, students cannot disturb the class by making oral requests for a repetition of something they are not sure of, so they will usually listen more attentively. Second, the teachers can be sure of the pacing, which will make the exercise more valid for comparing different classes, or for evaluation of the same class at different times.

Listening to grammatical patterns


In order to proceed with the dictation, the teacher reads the passage (or plays the tape recording) three times. First, the teacher reads the passage at normal speed, and the students just listen. Then the teacher repeats the passage little by little, with pauses for the students to write. The length of the reading is adjusted to the level of the students. The length of the pause is geared towards the slower students, so that everyone has time to write. Finally, the teacher reads the passage for the third time at normal speed so that students can check their writing.

Spot dictation

The students only have to fill in the blank spaces of the written passage they have before them while the teacher reads the passage. The blank spaces are usually left at the position of the grammar points that students are learning. For example, the blank spaces can be left at the position of prepositions or presents perfect verbs, etc. Instead of the passage, the teacher can choose and play a popular song which contains the grammar structure that the students are learning.

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