or restaurants, and tried to ‘tune in’ to the Spanish spoken there, I understood much less
due to the much faster pace of the colloquial language and the use of local dialect words.The issues that we identified were consistent with some of those that the tutor had noted on
the next slide of her ‘PowerPoint’ presentation. She also identified two further issues.
Firstly, whilst students can keep within their linguistic boundaries when speaking andwriting, they have no control over what they listen to, and quite often, they do not have anopportunity to listen to it a second time. This is especially true in real life situations outsidethe classroom. Secondly, the use of expletives and compacted words could be difficult.
Again, this was something that I could relate to. The Welsh phrase for ‘I don’t know’ is ‘dwiddim yn gwybod’. When I was a secondary school pupil, we used to
pronounce this as atwo syllable contraction
, ‘wmbo’ (pronounced ‘oom
boh’). This compacted phrase would
have been difficult for any learner of Welsh to understand.The tutor then asked us to try out a listening activity worksheet developed for a recordeddialogue from the WLPAN* Welsh Second Language course. The recording was aimed atthe intermediate level, and a learner at this level would have found it fairly straightforward tounderstand. However, that was not the case with the listening activity. It was a list of 24questions which required answers of more than one word or a full sentence. All theprospective tutors on the course had difficulties in completing the activity, as it involvedmulti-tasking
reading, writing and listening - at a rapid pace. If prospective tutors, whowere native speakers or very advanced learners, found this activity difficult, learners wouldcertainly have found it to be a negative experience. This was an example of a poorlyplanned activity, and it certainly helped us to empathise with a language learner faced witha difficult listening task.We were then given three examples of alternative activities, again linked to the samelistening task. The first task had ten questions with a multiple choice of two answers foreach one. The second had two columns; one with a list of eleven single word answers, thesecond with a list of eleven statements that described each answer. This activity involveddrawing a line from each word to the relevant statement. The third activity was a list oft
hirteen questions, to be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by means of a tick or cross. We were all in
agreement that, whilst the second activity was slightly more complicated than the first and
third, they were all much more straightforward and ‘learner friendly’ th
an the original activity.The tutor emphasised the importance of simplifying listening tasks and making them morestraightforward, e.g. by giving the learners more than one opportunity to listen to therecording, by asking the learners to focus on specific or limited information, and not asking
them to ‘multi
The tutor also described a number of methods that could be used to simplify listening tasks,which included giving the students more than one opportunity to listen to the recording.Again, we were asked to go into groups of three to discuss the advantages of simplifyinglistening tasks. Some of the advantages identified by my group included:
The learners are not expected to understand, analyse, and write at the same time.
The learners can understand the general meaning of the recording even though theymay not understand every word.
The learners understand more each time they listen to the recording.
The learner is set up to succeed rather than fail with the task.