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TSLB 3063

Teaching Listening & Speaking


Topic 1 / Week 1

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the session, the students should be able to:

• identify listening and speaking skills in the syllabus

• talk about the approaches of integrating listening and

speaking skills
Key Questions about Listening
• What are listeners doing when they listen?
• What factors affect good listening?
• What are characteristics of “real life” listening?
• What are the many things listeners listen for?
• What are some principles for designing listening
• How can listening techniques be interactive?
• What are some common techniques
for teaching listening?
Issues for discussion
1. Why is listening so difficult for students?
2. What do we listen to in everyday life?
3. What are the characteristics of the listening
4. What are the principles of teaching listening?
5. What are the common activities in teaching
What makes listening difficult?
• Clustering
(a succession of two or more contiguous consonants in an
utterance, as the str- cluster of strap.)
• Redundancy (unnecessary repetition)
• Reduced forms (‘coz)
• Performance variables (tone, voice, body lang.
interruptions, doodling etc)
• Colloquial language (eg. take a whiz, whatchmacallit)
• Rate of delivery
• Stress, rhythm, and intonation
• Interaction
What kinds of listening skills are taught?

• Reactive (listen and repeat)

• Intensive (listen on a focused sound)
• Responsive (listen and respond – briefly)
• Selective (listen for particular items in a longer
• Extensive (listen for interactive/responsive
• Interactive (listen to discuss, respond, debate)
Reasons why listening is often neglected in
language teaching.
• Lack of teaching materials;
• Lack of equipment;
• Lack of training in how to use the equipment;
• Listening is not included in many important tests;
• Lack of real-life situations where language
learners need to understand spoken English;
• Lessons tend to test rather than
to train students’ listening skills.
• Both listening and reading are receptive skills, but
listening can be more difficult than reading
o Different speakers produce the same sounds in
different ways, e.g. dialects and accents, stress,
rhythms, intonations, mispronunciations, etc.
o The listener has little/ no control over the speed of
the input of the spoken material;
o The spoken material is often heard only once(unlike
the reading material)
• What did you see? (I want to know what you saw.)
• WHAT did you see? (You have yet to tell me what you saw.)
• What DID you see? (You being ambiguous or not coming to
the actual point of telling me exactly what you saw.)
• What did you SEE? (I’m shocked to hear about what you saw.)
o The listener cannot pause to work out the
o Speech is more likely to be distorted by
background noise or the media that transmit
o The listener sometimes has to deal simultaneously
with another task while listening, eg. note-taking.
What do we listen to in everyday life?
• Since we are teaching our students English not
only to help them pass exams, but also to
prepare them to use English in real life, it is
important to think about the situations they
will listen to English in real life and then think
about the listening exercises we do in class.
• Even at the beginning stage, we need to give
our students a variety of listening exercises to
prepare them for real life use of language.
• In most cases, the listening materials in the
classroom are daily conversation or stories,
but in reality we listen to far more things.
• Telephone conversations about business
• Lessons or lectures given in English
• Instructions in English
• Watching movies in English
• Dealing with tourists
• Interviews with foreign-enterprises
• Socializing with foreigners
• Listening to English songs
• Radio news in English
• Conversations with foreigners
• Watching television programmes in English
• Shop assistants who sell goods to foreigners
• International trade fairs
• Negotiations with foreign businessmen
• Hotel and restaurant services
• Others?
Principles for teaching listening
• Integrate listening into the course / lesson
• Appeal to students’ personal goals
• Use authentic language and contexts (don’t baby
• Consider how students will respond (lang.
level, schema, jargon)
• Teach listening strategies
• Include both bottom-up AND top-down
• Focus on process.
• Listening is not a passive activity. We must do
many things to process information that we
are receiving.
• -Paying attention
• -Constructing meaningful messages
in the mind by relating what we
hear to what we already
know (as in schema).
• Two problems with the traditional listening
i. No opportunities to practise listening and
speaking skills together.
ii. The questions only test the students, rather
than train the students how to listen or how
to develop listening strategies.
Focus on comprehending meaning
• In traditional textbooks, the listening exercises test
the students’ memory, not their listening
• Psycholinguistic studies have shown that people do
not remember the exact form of the message they
hear, i.e. they don’t remember what they hear word
for word, rather, they remember the meaning.
Grade difficulty level appropriately
• Three factors that may affect the difficulty
level of listening tasks:
o Type of language used
o Task or purpose in listening
o Context in which the listening occurs.
Common listening strategies
• Looking for key words
• Looking for nonverbal cues to meaning
• Predicting a speaker’s purpose by the context
• Activating background knowledge
• Guessing at meanings
• Seeking clarification
• Listening for the gist

• Developing test-taking strategies for listening

Characteristics of the listening process
It is important to understand the characteristics
or process behind these listening situations so
that we as teachers can design appropriate
activities to help our students to develop
effective listening habits and strategies.
• Formal or informal?
• Rehearsed or non-rehearsed?
• Can the listener interact with the speaker or
Current issues in teaching oral skills
• Conversational discourse
• Teaching pronunciation
• Accuracy and fluency
• Affective factors
• Interaction effect
• Questions about intelligibility
• Questions about what is “correct” speech
What makes speaking difficult?
The same things that make listening difficult:
• Clustering
• Redundancy
• Reduced forms
• Performance variables
• Colloquial language
• Rate of delivery
• Stress, rhythm, and intonation
• Interaction
Types of classroom performance

• Imitative (this should be limited) – repetition

• Intensive – practice a
grammatical/phonological feature
• Responsive – to respond to a question
• Transactional (dialogue) – to convey
• Interpersonal (dialogue) – to interact socially
• Extensive – monologue

1.1 By the end of the 6-year primary schooling, pupils will be able to pronounce
words and speak confidently with the correct stress, rhythm and intonation.

1.1.2 Able to listen to, identify and discriminate similar and different sounds in stories.
1.1.3 Able to listen to and respond to a given stimulus by using appropriate words,
phrases and expressions with the correct stress, rhythm and intonation.

Level 1
Can listen to, identify and discriminate similar and different sounds in stories with
very limited ability
Can listen to and respond to a given stimulus with a very limited level of fluency,
accuracy and correct stress and intonation.
Brown, H.D. (2007). Teaching by principles: An interactive
approach to language pedagogy (3rd ed). White Plains, NY:
Pearson Education.

Richard-Amato, P.A. (2003). Making it happen: From

interactive to participatory language teaching theory and
practice (3rd ed.). White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.