Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Summary List of Listening Comprehension Exercises


1. We may have exercises at the phonological level of English. These will include the following: Aural discrimination exercises for segmental sounds, Aural discrimination exercises for suprasegmentals such as stress and intonation, Vowel reduction exercises which demonstrate the relationship between the spoken and written forms of English, and Stress placement exercises. All these may be used in dialogue form.
2. We may also have listening comprehension exercises which relate to listening in the process of reading a material. In these exercises, we may ask the students to number the words in the order in which they heard them, ask students to cross out what is not correct for the passage, ask students to identify the words with the sound specified, ask students to identify whether the words and phrases they heard in pairs are the same or different (same-different drills), and ask students to identify the grammatical categories of patterns they have just listened to. Note that not all these exercises would be interesting or relevant in your class.
3. Dictation is an excellent drill for developing listening comprehension, even as it helps in the development of rudimentary writing skill. You may begin with spot dictation in which a few simple words from the text are read/pronounced to the students and they are asked to write what they heard. In another type of spot dictation, students may be asked to fill in the blanks, when a passage is read. Yet another dictation method is to dictate a complete passage with normal speed. For this, it is always helpful if you read first the whole passage aloud in normal speed. Then, you may read the same passage again with pauses for students to write. These pauses should fall in natural breaks between phrases and sentences. After the dictation is done, you may reread the passage at normal speed for checking the responses given by the students. In order to keep the level of difficulty and complexity of the passage given for dictation appropriate to the level of students, it is better to select these passages only from the lessons already completed in class.
4. It is possible to use dictation for “grammatical” listening as well.
5. Recoding exercises in which you may ask the students to circle the sentence which has the same meaning as the one they hear may be given for listening comprehension practice.
6. Listen to the passage and check all the appropriate answers.
7. Listening for the message is focused upon when students listen to entire passages. Read from a well-graded book or play a message on tape and ask students to say or write the essential parts of the message they just heard. Let the students concentrate on the general theme or the central message, instead of on specific words or phrases.
8. In Problem Solving listening comprehension exercises, students listen to the description or presentation of a problem and solve it, by doing what is required of them.
9. Listening to an uncontrolled passage (a passage in which neither vocabulary nor sentence structure nor content is controlled or graded) and taking notes is an important listening comprehension skill that students must have if they wish to use English for purposes of higher education. They need to understand the lecture, go along with the lecture with ease when the content progresses in complexity, and be in a position to recall what was heard earlier for purposes of understanding what is being discussed by the lecturer at a later moment. Listening and Note Taking Competence is very much needed in college instruction. This skill may be developed in the second or foreign language learner of English through several graded steps:
i. Students are introduced to the mechanics of note-taking. They will be given a list of common symbols used as abbreviations for words and ideas. They should also be introduced to the processes and forms of outlining a content.
ii. Students may be given an outline with the basic points of the content of the lecture they are going to listen to. Along with these basic points, there will be blanks which they are required to fill in as they listen to the lecture. Then, at the end, they will answer some comprehension questions as well.
iii. In the next graded step, students may be given a bare outline and a set of comprehension questions. They are required to fill the outline, but take their own complete set of notes, and answer questions.
iv. The next advanced step will present only the major headings of the outline of the lecture, and the students are required to take their own complete set of notes, and then answer some comprehension questions.
v. In this step, students are given only comprehension questions. They are required to answer them after listening to the lecture. At this level, lectures may last for an entire class period.
11. It is important to include listening comprehension exercises to teach variations of style in English. English is greatly marked by such variations in usage. Such exercises help students understand the English spoken outside the classroom. For this it is important to use dialogues. Discuss the factors concerning the style of a particular passage given for listening comprehension. Focus on the speakers, situation, content, mood, channel, etc. You may focus upon the variations on a theme, on sound, grammar, and vocabulary, and ask students how the dialogues differ. Through such exercises students will become sensitive to style differences.


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