Stages of teaching listening skill

The activities that are used for teaching listening can be categorized into three distinct stages: pre-listening activities, while-listening activities, and post-listening activities.

1. Pre Listening Activities:

It is the first stage in which the learners are motivated or encouraged to listen to something making them clear what they are going to hear about. In order words, we have to make the students clear what they are going to hear about, make them familiar with the sounds and words they are going to hear, and provide them with some background knowledge that is necessary for them to comprehend the listening text.

Background knowledge, here, refers to the knowledge of what the topic is, or what the setting is, and so on. Before students appear in the actual listening, they should be motivated or ‘tuned in’ so that they know what to expect, both in a general and particular task.

This kind of preparation brings the students’ world into the classroom to hold the attention of the students which Harmer calls lead in stage as well. This stage is also known as the warm-up stage. Pre-listening consists of a whole range of activities including:

  • the teacher giving background information.
  • the students reading something relevant
  • looking at pictures and talking about them
  • making a list of items/thoughts
  • an oral question-answer session
  • associating ideas with the topic
  • predicting/speculating information about the topic
  • completing part of a chart
  • telling the purpose of listening
  • discussion of some vocabulary items
  • writing questions about the topic
  • following instructions for the while listening activity

However, all the activities mentioned above are not possible in a single lesson. Depending upon the context, one or more activities can be selected in each lesson focusing on several factors such as:

  • The time available
  • The material available
  • The ability of the learners
  • The interest of the students
  • The interest of the teacher
  • The place in which the work is being carried out
  • The nature and content of the listening text itself.

2. While Listening Activities:

While listening is the most important stage in which students are asked to perform certain activities or tasks during the time they are listening to the text. The main purpose of the while-listening stage is to help learners develop the skill of eliciting messages or information from the spoken discourse.

In addition to this, the main reason why students need to listen to the language they are studying is to recognize how it sounds (the intonation, stress, pronunciation, rhythm, etc.) so that they can use what they hear as a model for their own speech.

The while listening activities for teaching listening comprehension should be so well and carefully selected that they should be something more than the test of listening. Some of the activities carried out in the while-listening stage are as follow:

  • making/checking items in pictures
  • putting pictures in order
  • matching pictures with what is heard
  • picture drawing
  • completing pictures
  • carrying out actions
  • identifying the topic or any aspect of it
  • following a route
  • completing grids
  • extracting 2-4 pieces of information
  • chart / table completion
  • true / false items
  • multiple-choice questions
  • spotting
  • predicting
  • sentence completion
  • gap-filling (text completion)
  • matching items and so on.

All in all, in while listening stage, the teacher presents the tasks, the students engage in performing the tasks and the teacher helps the students by giving them clues (feedback) if necessary.

3. Post Listening Activities:

In this stage, the teacher organizes some kind of task related to the task performed in the while-listening stage. In other words, post-listening activities are extensions of the work done at the pre-listening and while-listening stages to relate the content to the student’s personal experience and judge the content in their own ways. The activities, in this stage, should reflect real life so that they perceive the usefulness of such activities for language learning.

Underwood (1989) has prescribed the following activities as post-listening activities:

  • using information or problem solving and decision making
  • summarizing
  • from / chart completion
  • sequencing / grading
  • matching with a reading text
  • extending notes into written responses
  • summarizing
  • jigsaw listening
  • identifying the relationship between speakers.
  • establishing the mood/attitude/behaviour of the speaker
  • role play / simulation
  • dictation

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