Narrator: Hi, are you ready to begin Session B? In this session, we're going to look at possible sources for listening input. When you finish this session, you will be able to identify possible sources of listening material, understand different types of listening material, understand the pros and cons of authentic materials, and select appropriate listening material for your students.Jack C. Richards: Let's start the discussion by considering possible sources of material. By material, we mean the audio or video source, plus any related visuals or texts, or exercises that go with it. You probably already use many of these sources, as a teacher and as a language learner yourself.
The first source of materials to consider is what we might call real life listening sources.Real life listening means there is a live speaker and the students themselves become a "live" audience. Live sources are a great source of listening because they promote interactive listening.
In the classroom, you, as the teacher, can maximize your students' opportunities for real life listening if you speak English in class. It's not essential that you be a native speaker, or even a fluentspeaker of English, to be a vital source of real life listening. We learn to listen in English through listening to a variety of English speakers.
Let's think of some other sources of listening material. TV and radio are the two most obvious sources of authentic listening input. Similarly, affordable DVDs and CDs provide ready sources of listening material. And the Internet, with an endless varietyof audio and video broadcasts, offers countless possibilities for listening practice.
Many of these sources – radio, TV, Internet podcasts, and so on, may not be appropriate for your students, but you can select just a few that are the most useful.
Another source of listening material is, of course, your textbook. Textbooks typically come with audio CDs, and many also have supplementary DVDsand CD-ROMs with extra listening and viewing material.
And finally, you can always create your own material by recording your own conversations and interviews. In my own teaching career, I have sometimes made use of audio and video recordings of conversations and interviews with language learners and second language speakers of English, as a way of bringing realistic examples of language to theclassroom.
real life listening
listening to someone who is speaking directly to an audience (also live listening
Many different types of sources are used for listening practice. One distinction is that of formal sources versus informal sources. Think about the differences between a radio news report and an informal conversation. How might these differences affect how students process what theyare listening to? Look at the chart. |
Radio news report | Informal conversation |
* Usually one speaker | * Two or more speakers |
* Planned speech | * Unplanned, spontaneous speech |
* Usually spoken at a steady pace with little repetition | * Can be fast, but speakers sometimes repeat or re-state information |
* More formal language | * Less formal,often colloquial language |
* Usually a set length of time | * No set length of time |
Weighing difficulty between formal and informal sources
Many of our students find it difficult to listen to informal conversations because the pace can vary between fast and slow, the organization is often unpredictable, and the speakers use a lot of colloquial language. However, some studentsfind formal texts like news reports even more difficult because the language of specific topics is unfamiliar or because there is not much repetition.
One way we can help our students with these problems is to become familiar with different kinds of listening sources – and to be prepared for the difficulties that our students will experience.
Jack C. Richards: Different genres of spoken...