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Ben Green Developing Students listening skills for part 4 of the CAE exam Page 1

Name: XXXXXXXXX Candidate Number:


Supervisor: XXXXXXXXX Date: 25/02/13
Centre: CLIC International House, Seville Centre Number:


Language Systems Assignment Internal 1: Skills





Contents Page Number

Class Profile 2-4
Background Information 2
Learner Styles and Preferences 2
Motivation 2
Strengths and Weaknesses 3-4
Needs of the Group 4
Lesson Profile 5-6
Main Aim 5
Subsidiary Aims 5
Assumptions 5
Timetable Fit 5
Aids and Materials 6
Professional Development & Personal Aims 6
Anticipated Problems and Solutions 6-7
Commentary 7-8
Procedure 12-13




Background Information

There are 7 students in the class, 3 males and 4 females, aged between 22 and 35. All
are native Spanish speakers living in the L1 environment.
Two of the students are studying, two are working and three are unemployed.
This is the 6
th
week into a 10-week intensive course. Classes are held three times a
week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 09.30-13.00.
Developing students listening skills for part 4 of the CAE exam
Class Profile
Ben Green Developing Students listening skills for part 4 of the CAE exam Page 2

The class is shared with another teacher Ruby. I teacher the first part of the lesson
(form 9.30 to 11.10 and Ruby teaches the second half (11.20-13.00)
The class work from the exam preparation course book Ready for CAE, which is geared
towards exam practice activities. Four of them have used the book before and have
moved from extensive or pre-CAE intensive classes respectively. However the rest of
them started using it this year. Homework is given about twice a week from both Ruby
and I and often involves writing or exam practice papers.
In terms of level, they are all around a C1 level (advanced).
I have been teaching them for approximately 6 weeks and the course will finish in
the second week of March.

Learner Styles and Preferences

From the needs analysis form I found that all the students have, to some extent, an
interpersonal learning style as they like working in pairs and in small groups, There is an
element of both linguistic ( Marina and Beatrice) and logical/mathematical learners ( Jaime
and Mercedes) within the group.

All except one specified that they preferred to learn in pairs or groups, the one who
preferred working alone also stated that she preferred writing to speaking activities which
was surprising as she is a very vocal member of the group..The majority of the students do
their homework. In terms of perceptually based learning styles, the majority of the students
seem to have a visual learning style with one student having a more auditory style to the
others. They are incredibly focussed on the forthcoming exam and question how any class
activity relates to the exam. For this reason I am always overt in my aims for activities and
explain which part of the exam it will be useful for.

Motivation

All of the students main motivation is extrinsic: they are learning in order to pass the exam
which they need for their working life, degree or to improve their prospects on the job
market. One student (Marina) stated that the reason she wanted the CAE was for her
own satisfaction Most stated the belief that good English will also increase their future
employment possibilities. A lesser integrative motivation is that they would like to be able
to communicate with L1 English speakers when they get the opportunity to travel and/or
work abroad which all of them have previous experience of doing. One student (Raquel) is
studying German at the same time as a law degree and English, which does affect her
capability to complete homework , especially the writings..

Strengths and Weaknesses

Grammar

Most of my students have a good grasp of grammar. Their experience of learning has mainly
been discrete-item and they are used to working with grammar rules, whether this is
deductive or inductive. Their knowledge of meta-language, like many Spanish students, is
good, which is beneficial when dealing with problems or trying to understand concepts. The
main problem comes in encouraging them to actively use this in their writing and speaking.
Ben Green Developing Students listening skills for part 4 of the CAE exam Page 3

They may well be able to identify a particular grammatical structure or discrete item but are
much less likely to be able to use this productively.

As a group, they are quick to remember grammar previously studied and quick to grasp new
notions that they havent met before. Beatrice, Marina and Victor are particularly good at
grammar, possibly as structures suit their learner style. Raquel, Mercedes and Alberto, on
the other hand, can struggle at times, although once they get the concept, they are
generally good at using it. This can be problematic as the focus in the second half of the
book moves away from grammar so these three are often trying to catch up with the rest in
terms of comprehension which can affect the pace of the class. Guided-discovery
approaches often suit them better as they are of the level where working things out for
themselves comes naturally to them.

Lexis

In general, this class has quite a mixed range of vocabulary for this level. They enjoy learning
new vocabulary, particularly informal and colloquial language but, unlike some students
who religiously copy everything from the new vocabulary section of the board into their
notebooks, they need to be encouraged to do this and to regularly review this vocabulary.
Sometimes this lack of lexical depth can hinder receptive activities, particularly for Marina
and Jaime who are both intolerant of ambiguity which can affect the pace of reading
activities. Beatrice and Victor are the stronger members of the group with regard to lexis.

Pronunciation

Pronunciation is quite a weak area over all and its something that, according to the needs
analysis, they all want to work on. They enjoy learning about features of connected speech
and when taught this are quite quick to pick it up.Most of them havecome across the
phonemic chart before and I am trying to include more of this in my lessons in order to help
them to improve their pronunciation.
Some of the students L1 accent is quite strong (Beatrice and Mercedes) and in can hinder
communication especially with Beatrice who often reverts to L1 in the classroom.
Pronunciation has been something I have been focussing on for the past six weeks.

Discourse

In general, the students are good at going beyond the sentence level. They communicate
well between each other and can organise their thoughts into a longer productive speech or
writing given time to plan. They do, however, tend to rely heavily on certain stock linking
expressions regardless of text type or requirements of register. In terms of spoken
discourse they are familiar with turn-taking and are able to use back channelling and
clarification techniques effectively although they sometimes need to expand on their points
and be less worried about producing mistakes..

Reading

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Reading is a relative strength and they tend to do well at reading tasks. They do need to be
encouraged to take note of new vocabulary and collocations, which are particularly
important in the exam, in order to expand their vocabulary. They are generally good at
reading for detail but a couple of them struggle with reading for gist because they want to
know the meaning of every word. This is particularly true of Jaime and Marina, who both
seem to be quite intolerant of ambiguity.
Listening

This is an area which is weak across the board and they all said that they find listening
difficult, particularly concentrating while listening. I need to help them to develop more
strategies for when they are listening and to build their confidence in it. They also tend to
see listening as boring, which makes sense as the majority of them seem to have a more
visual than auditory learning style. That said, in the needs analysis they all said that listening
was something they need to improve and something that they wanted more of in the class. I
have tried to encourage them to listen to films/music etc that interest them outside of the
class and the students that are stronger at listening (Jaime and Alberto) do actively make an
effort to listen to English music and watch films in their original English version whenever
possible.
Writing

There is a greater degree of ability in this skill than in any other area. Marina and Beatrice
are very strong, but Victor and Raquel struggle to create organised, cohesive pieces of work
When I highlight errors on their written work they are often able to self correct these and
they need to get into the habit of proof reading their work both for errors and also to try
and make it better, even if it is already accurate. They seem to like this way of thinking.
Victor also has a problem with incoherent handwriting which will have a negative impact on
the examiner who is marking his written work.

Speaking

They are generally quite confident speaking but make a number of errors when they do so.
They enjoy learning useful chunks of language and enjoy speaking and discussing things with
each other. Its not often that they stop speaking before I have to ask them to! The fluency
of Marina, Jaime and Alberto are good for the level. They could improve their accuracy
though. Beatrice and Mercedes struggle more with fluency than accuracy.
The group is very strong in this area and work well in activities that require interaction and
communication. What they need is more practice in spoken production under test-like
conditions, as currently their nerves get in the way and their fluency, accuracy and
pronunciation suffer. The students are keen to have as much speaking practice in class, as
they feel confident in this area, but also feel it is important.


Needs of the Group

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The main need of the group is to pass the CAE exam in March. They all want and need to
improve their listening skills, whilst at the same time admitting that they find listening
difficult and find it difficult to concentrate on. They all want to practise their speaking,
grammar and broaden their vocabulary. As a group they are generally more confident with
reading. Although they can be a little shy with drilling activities, they appreciate their
importance and are keen to improve their pronunciation.







Main Aims

By the end of the lesson the students will:

Have developed listening skill techniques that will help them in part 4 of the CAE exam.

Subsidiary Aims

By the end of the lesson my students will:
Have distinguished and practised using different intonation to convey meaning /attitude
in natural speech.

Assumptions

As I know that the students have practised part 4 of the test on numerous occasions, I
expect that they will know the format of this part of the exam and what is required.
In addition, Beatrice and Victor can struggle to pay attention during listening, so I will need
to ensure that they are keeping on task and be aware if they become lost or lose
concentration during the listening.

Timetable Fit

As the exam is getting closer we are now honing in the parts of the exam that the students
have the opportunity to improve the most thereby maximizing their chances of performing
well on exam day. We have taken a broad approach to improving all aspects of the
students skills however we believe that it is now more beneficial to be more discriminatory
and to look at a more targeted approach. We have almost finished the Exam preparation
course book and are able to revise areas which are the most challenging.
In terms of methodology, we have been doing a mixture of deductive and inductive
approaches. This class, however, would be a good opportunity to include a guided discovery
approach which will activate deeper cognitive processes making the skill development more
memorable

Lesson Profile
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Aids and Materials

Whiteboard (wb), Interactive White Board, (IWB) pens and board rubber
Handout with gist listening questions
Handout for CAE exam Listening part 4.
Computer for playing listening
Exam Listening exercise part 4
Tapescript from exercise


Professional Development & Personal Aims

Monitor effectively and provide on the spot and summarised error correction
Prepare and use more concept questions to check understanding.
Concentrate on a more focussed approach to the whiteboard in terms of word families
and relevant information for new lexical items.





Problem 1: Some of the students may have trouble with comprehension and get stuck on
new lexis in the listening.

Solution 1: By looking at techniques to try and predict lexis from the listening by analysing
the theme, rubric and context I hope to minimize the risk of students being blocked by
unknown or unfamiliar vocabulary. The emphasis on a top down approach for this part of
the exam will hopefully activate the schemata and fully prepare the students before the
listening commences.

Problem 2: Some students may have problems with the nature of the task i.e. the fact that
they have to complete two tasks simultaneously while listening.

Solution 2: I aim to look at a variety of techniques that may aid students who struggle with
this task.

Problem 3: Students may have problems with the variety of accents or some unusual from
the listening.

Solution 3: We will look at the tape script post listening and highlight any expressions, lexis
or features of connected speech that students find particularly tricky.

Problem 4: Students may not be aware or prosodic features, for example the use of a flat
sarcastic intonation and this may distract them or lead to them misunderstanding the
meaning /attitude of the speaker(s).

Solution 4 : We will look at an extract from the text and analyse how intonation can be used
in different ways to affect the meaning in speech.



Anticipated Problems and Solutions
Commentary
Ben Green Developing Students listening skills for part 4 of the CAE exam Page 7




Why have I chosen listening skills?

Of the four skills listening is the one that causes the most problems for the students and it is
the one that they find the most challenging. I believe it will be incredibly useful if my
students can learn techniques so that they dont feel overwhelmed by the listening in the
exam and in English environments in general.

Why have I chosen part 4 of the listening exam?

Part 4 of the listening is the part that causes the most problems when we have done exam
practice listenings. For this reason I believe the students will find it more beneficial, to look
deeper into the reason why this part has been problematic and explore techniques that may
help them with this section of the exam



Why have I chosen to teach this lesson using an exam practice listening and not my own
materials?
It is extremely difficult recreating this type of exam type question with the numerous
distracters. I believe I would be better spent using an existing exam practise paper which
would then be more authentic in terms of the exam if not a real life situation. Students
will see more validity if the exam practice is from a previous Cambridge exam as opposed to
my own hand made listening.
I can then analyse the listening in terms of distracters, connected speech, potential
problems etc and look into techniques for the students in order to overcome these
difficulties.

Why have I chosen to concentrate on Top-down processing?

I believe developing top down processing skills will prove more useful for this part of the
exam. In the CAE handbook it states that this part of the exam is more of a gist listening
than a detail listening and students need to be aware of prosodic features of attitude and
mood as opposed to listening for specific lexis. Obviously in the exam the students wont
have a huge amount of time to activate the schemata before the listening but if these skills
can be developed hopefully it will speed up the process and these skills can be utilised both
pre-listening and during the completion of the tasks.

How has research for my background assignment affected the planning of this lesson?

As I researched listening it became clear to me that this skill was the least understood and
written about of the four skills. Analysis of this part of the exam has led me to the
conclusion that a focus on a top down approach will be of more benefit than a bottom up
approach. Although I am using more interactive approach looking at both aspects. I am also
focussing on looking at transactional communication as opposed to interactional as this is
the one featured in part 4 of the exam.

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How have the needs of my students affected the planning of this lesson?

The students exam needs are paramount and so I have incorporated a real exam practice
question to look at and so they will be able to see the direct transfer to what they need to
do in the exam. By looking at a number of tangible strategies that the students can use in
the exam they will be able to apply the technique that suits them best and enables them to
do as well as possible in this task.

How have my professional development goals affected the planning of this lesson?

As I want to improve my whiteboard use and be more discriminating regarding what and
how to display lexical items. I have spent more time at the planning stage analysing
vocabulary and expressions from the text and am using a more considered approach to how
I am going to use the whiteboard to show relevant aspects of this lexis. E.g. word families
and common collocations.




Commentary Word Count: 634




Ben Green Developing Students listening skills for part 4 of the CAE exam Page 9



Timing
(mins)
Stages and
Aims
Interactio
n
Procedure
Possible
Problems
10-15

To create
interest and to
practice
question
forms

TS
ST




Show students object (Owl Key-ring)
Elicit questions from students regarding
the object
Tell story of object filling in any gaps not
covered by the questions.
Board any necessary vocabulary and
correct question forms if required


Ss Students
may have be
uncomfortab
le with

30- 40
For
students
to be able
to choose
what they
want to
discuss
and
language
they are
interested
in.
S-S Ask students to choose an object form
their bags/pockets which they think
others may be interested in.
Go around the class eliciting questions
with students taking it in turns to show an
object and tell the story of their object.
Board new vocabulary and any relevant
language that the students need or display
interest in.
Monitor and error correct if required
Students
may not
have
objects
to show.
Students
might be
reluctant
to
expand
or may
not have
many
question
s to ask.
10-20

Consoli
dation
of new

TS
SS


Drill new boarded language.
Expand on any lexis in terms of
related vocabulary collocations


Procedure
Ben Green Developing Students listening skills for part 4 of the CAE exam Page 10

langua
ge



T

etc.

5
Technique practice for the pre- listening.

Ss may resist
trying new
technique
preferring
their own tried
and tested
method
5
Listen to speaker 2
and 3
Students employ
techniques for
listening
comprehension


SS

SS



SS listen to speaker 2 and use
their technique to try and
find the correct answers.
Both groups change
techniques and try out the
other 2 prediction methods
and then listen to speaker 3


5

Reflection
Students
evaluate
techniques

TS

SS
ST

Provide Ss with technique
feedback questions
In new groups of 3 or 4 Ss
compare and evaluate all of
the different
techniquesusefulness
Group feedback



5

Listen to speaker 4
and 5

SS



Ss choose their preferred
technique for the final two
listenings

8-10 Listen to all 5 Ss underline task 1 and task 2
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speakers with tape
script
answers in tape script
SS compare underlined parts

5-8
New lexis analysis Look at useful colloquial
language (3 or 4 lexis) from
text and look at form,
meaning and pronunciation
Drill


10
Intonation Look at intonation of
expression from text and
contrast how it can be used
to add sarcasm or not.
Ss practise intonation to add
sarcasm

Ben Green Developing Students listening skills for part 4 of the CAE exam Page 12

1.