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GCSE Languages places a heavier emphasis on writing and speaking, which can lead to listening being neglected. Listening activities can be time consuming but they are vital in being able to understand a language. They allow students to experience a range of accents, ages and speeds of talking without leaving the classroom. Some are contrived and others are effective but how can you exploit a listening text for all it is worth? There seems to be a school of thought emerging that if teachers teach using maximum TL then that counts as listening. I think there is still a place for the recorded material.
Listening can be differentiated for pupils of various abilities. Below are some of the ways I have used in a classroom that work. I wish I did them all more often. The majority will work at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.
This takes some planning but consider how you could stretch your more able and support your less able.
- Ask them to look for particular things.
- Have a column of extra details if completing a table and get them to fill it in as they go.
- Could they do a dictée on a particular line? You could suggest to a class that all those with a target grade of … could do this?
- Can you do a higher level listening with your more able while the foundation students do a reading activity and then swap. This works for mixed ability groups.
- Could they write their own extract afterwards based on the recordings they have heard?
- Multiple choice – you can give them this on a handout or on a slide.
- Write down the words that they hear that they definitely know. Essentially give them a chance to understand bits before asking them to find answers.
- Give them the script for the first recording so they can read along
- Give their TA the script – TAs appreciate this as the teacher’s guides generally have the answers afterwards.
- Give them the answers and have them highlight the ones they can hear this should help you see how much they comprehend,
- Teach them skills to help them – key words, cognates, sound patterns, discerning plurals etc
- VLC is an excellent media programme and has a facility to slow down recordings, I would not go much below 0.90 but it can help.
Conducting a listening effectively
- Try not to talk too much
- Consider the following order
- Play recording all the way through without stopping, students do nothing.
- Play through and students try to get answers.
- Play through and have breaks in between for students to either write answers or check their answers.
- Make sure students are clear on what they are listening for.
- Don’t tolerate chat in between. It needs to be their own work
- Try to do them regularly.
Make it lead to something.
Could your students do a similar thing later in the lesson? Perhaps they could record it and you could use that instead (providing you have permission). Could they do a speeddating style activity and use some of the phrases from the listening recording, or any other activity for that matter?
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