Combining listening and reading

1. Radio news Many sites that offer streaming or downloadable radio news also have a short text summarizing the story. Reading this before listening will make comprehension easier, especially if students discuss what they read and/ or think about what they might hear before they listen. Reading first also allows students to look up some […]

1. Radio news
Many sites that offer streaming or downloadable radio news also have a short text summarizing the story. Reading this before listening will make comprehension easier, especially if students discuss what they read and/ or think about what they might hear before they listen. Reading first also allows students to look up some of the difficult vocabulary in their dictionaries. In class, tasks that combine the two include predicting what extra information will be given in the listening text, writing questions that they still want answered after reading the text and listening for the answers, and expanding the written text with the information in the listening text.

2. Graded reader plus CD
Most graded readers (= easy readers- simplified and shortened books of stories etc especially for language learners) nowadays have some kind of recording. I usually recommend that students read through the whole book without the CD, then read and listen at the same time to check the pronunciation, then just listen to the CD on their MP3 player as many times as they can bear. If the whole class has a set of one particular graded reader you could do more interesting things like playing the first part of the story before they start reading to get them interested in the whole story. With a range of different books, students could listen to a short extract of each book and decide from that which book they would like to take home.

3. Movie with subtitles
The advantages of having English subtitles include being able to easily look things up in a dictionary and learning the spelling and pronunciation at the same time. There is occasionally an argument for watching the film with subtitles in their own language, as understanding what is going on will make comprehension and so memorizing of the language easier the second time they watch it. The disadvantages with having any kind of subtitles are that students will come to rely on them and will get too used to being able to understand every word rather than pick out the message. In a similar way to the recommendation for graded readers above, I usually suggest watching the first time with English subtitles and the second time without. They will eventually need to work their way up to watching a film or episode of a TV series with no subtitles the first time too, and this can be made easier with careful selection of what they watch (e.g. the next episode of a series they know well or a film they already know the story of because they have read the book) or by turning the subtitles on every time they get completely lost and then back off when they know what is going on.

4. Book and movie
As I mentioned above, knowing the story before you start reading or watching a movie is a great help in making understanding easier and so improving motivation and making guessing of vocabulary from context easier. It also allows them to both read and listen to the same vocabulary, reinforcing it and helping them learn both the meaning and pronunciation. This can be brought into class by using a short extract of a book and then watching the same segment of the movie, spotting and discussing the differences. Students can then discuss which one they preferred. Other activities include picturing characters and settings while you read, and then watching the film and checking if they match your imagination.

5. Read the summary or review before you watch the movie, radio play or TV episode
This is similar to the tips for radio news given above. Summaries of the film can be found on the back of the video box, on websites like Amazon where you can buy movies, and in airline, entertainment and TV listings magazines. After watching or listening, students can then discuss if the summary included the most important information and avoided spoilers, and can then write a slightly longer summary, using the original summary as a basis if they like.

6. Listen and read to check
This tip can be used without any preparation with almost any textbook listening task. After students have listened two or three times and more or less answered the textbook questions, get them to read the tapescript and listen one more time and check their answers. The tapescript can then be used for speaking tasks like reading it out in pairs and then doing variations on it like changing the names and places for freer speaking. The advantage of reading the tapescript is that it allows students to spot grammatical forms and unknown vocabulary that they might have missed when they were just listening. One possible disadvantage of this approach is that students come to rely too much on being able to eventually read, and so become resistant to ignoring unknown words or moving on before they understand every word. Another thing to bear in mind is that for checking answers it is much more natural to read through slowly and carefully rather in time with the tape. You can therefore allow them to do this instead, before moving onto listening and reading using one of the approaches below.

7. Listen and read in preparation for speaking
Maybe after you have allowed students to check their answers to a listening with the answer key, you can ask them to read and listen at the same time in preparation for using the script for speaking. One task that really makes them listen carefully is Shadow Reading, where students try to speak exactly in time with the recording and then check whether they can still do so when the volume is turned down.

8. Mark the pron, then listen and check
This can be done before or after students listen for understanding. Things students can mark on the tapescript include pauses, linking of words, weak forms, and particular sounds such as schwa (the last sound in “computer”). These can also be done with film scripts.

9. Do a normal grammar exercise, then listen and check
For example, gapfills (cloze), spotting errors, and even sentence transformations. This also works well with songs and movies.

10. Match the listening to the texts
For example, “Which of the restaurants described here are the couple eating at?”

11. Listen to song and match to the description
As well as descriptions of the actual song, students could match the song to the work of art that inspired it, e.g. lots of Kate Bush songs are based on books and some songs are inspired by paintings.

12. Find the mistakes in the summary of the story
This is a fairly popular textbook task that you can easily prepare yourself by taking a summary from the back of the DVD box etc and changing some of the details to make them incorrect.

13. Listen to the critics
And try to spot the story, poem or song lyrics they are talking about from the selection on the page.

14. Jigsaw reading plus listening
Jigsaw listenings and readings are when students are given different texts and have to put the different information together. The same thing can be done with one group being given a listening and the other group being given a reading, but please note that students will probably need to be in different rooms while they are listening and reading. Many of the tasks described in this article that involve comparing listening and reading texts can be used in a jigsaw way if they are set up carefully.

15. Set listening tasks for each other
Students prepare listen tasks for other groups of students by looking at the tapescript and writing questions for the other team to answer as they listen. This is particularly good for EFL exam preparation classes such as IELTS, TOEIC, FCE and CAE.

Written by Alex Case for April 2009
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic.

One Comment

  • kamala ramachandran says:

    A very helpful website for the teachers of english.we can develope ourselves in all ways

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