Using film and video clips
FILM and video are very effective ways of both motivating our students and helping them to understand language. But they do need to be used with care and an understanding of both the dangers and the potential involved. Here are some tips to guide you.
*Pay attention to the length. Don’t exceed five minutes of film.
*Run through the material. Estimate the time students will take to do each activity and how many times you will need to show the clip.
*Set a context. If your clip comes from a sequence or part of a story, set the scene before starting.
*Have an aim. Why are you using the clip?
*Give students a concrete task. This helps them concentrate on the clip.
*Help students guess meanings of words and expressions by means of plot, facial expressions, etc.
*Making students predict the language being used can be useful and motivating. You may do this with the following steps.
Step 1: Give them the script with key items (expressions/verbs/key words) removed.
Step 2: Let them view the clip with sound off and use the visual clues to brainstorm the missing items.
Step 3: Let them view it with sound on to check predictions and complete the task.
*After finishing the first activity, you may get students to role-play the film.
Step 1: Assign roles to each student.
Step 2: Give each person a script corresponding to their part in the clip and put them in groups to practice their roles.
Step 3: Let them perform without scripts.
If some students are not keen on role-play, you may make them directors with the whole script as long as they speak English and take part in the show.
Dividing a listening exercise into three parts
Part 1 — the pre-listening stage
*Choose interesting listening materials.
*Prepare your students.
a) Give them background information. Don’t leave your students in the dark while listening. Their cultural knowledge needs to be as complete as is feasible in a lesson.
b) Pre-teach vocabulary. When we listen to something, we usually understand the topic and have plenty of topic vocabulary. Your students also need to be prepared.
*Give them a real reason to listen. Not just to complete a gap-fill exercise. Have them make predictions about what they are about to hear.
Part 2 — the while-listening stage
*Use visual clues. These can be in the form of flashcards, photos or maps or whatever is felt appropriate.
*Consider video. Videos and teacher-friendly DVDs may help provide some of the visual aids that are otherwise missing with cassettes and CDs.
*Don’t set traps. You should set tasks for students so that they encourage effective listening, and are not traps that the students could fall into and which could be detrimental to their motivation.
*Vary the task set. Keep your students guessing. Mix up what you ask them to do. Gap-fills, matching and multiple choices are fine. But also ask your students to convert information they hear into a map, a picture or a form to be filled out.
*Make tasks manageable. Listening can be divided up or the typescript can be used to ease students into a task.
Part 3 — the after-listening stage
*Teamwork is better. Get students to first check answers to any comprehension tasks in pairs or groups.
*Feedback is vital. If the teacher merely stops the cassette/CD, gives the answers and moves on, it makes a mess of all the pre-listening preparation that has been done.
*Integrating the listening part of the lesson. It is a good idea to use listening as part of an integrated skills approach. This is where the listening is used as a springboard onto other activities such as writing or role-plays, which share the same topic.
Classroom exercises for enhancing students’ listening skills
Students are interested in talking about their current research project. Thus teachers should take advantage of it and make them listen to others?? words to improve their listening abilities. You may do this in the following way.
Step 1: Have students get into pairs at the mid-point in their work on a term project or major research paper.
Step 2: Ask student A to speak for five minutes, describing the main points of his/her work to student B, who is instructed to listen attentively, without taking notes.
Step 3: Reverse roles — B describes her/his work to A.
Step 4: Have each give a brief description of his/her peer??s project, as he/she understands it — noting areas of confusion or gaps in understanding.
Step 5: Let students discuss what they have said and heard, and check information that they??ve missed.
Reading students’ papers
The following exercise involves reading students?? papers aloud. Students?? attention will be heightened since they are unable to predict when their own work will be read and they are curious about others?? reaction.
Step 1: Choose several students to do the listening. Assign one student ??respondent?? to identify the main point or argument of the paper; assign a second to note the use of supportive details or examples; and assign a third to point out effective phrasing. The other students may be judges.
Step 2: As each paper is read, ask the class to suggest an appropriate title. This exercise is especially valuable for creative writing or composition essays. By titling a paper, students?? abilities to do listening comprehension will be improved.
Step 3: Make the students listen, without paper and pen in hand, to each essay being read aloud. After each reading, ask them to recall effective details, noting especially sensual imagery such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch.
Reading to your students
You may bring outside texts to class to read to your students yourself. Short illustrations, discussions, humor, or your own original writing can be considered. Students see extracurricular readings of this type as a little ??gift?? from the teacher, and they show their appreciation by listening attentively.
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