Too Difficult Listening Exercises: What Can I Do?
A common question that people have related to teaching English abroad is the following:
“I’m just supposed to play listening tracks for my students, but they can’t understand them. How can I help them?”
Strive for Twice! Or, Avoid
First of all, this is a really annoying problem and I wish you luck. If you can avoid using them, this is the best option. Of course this isn’t always possible, especially if you have a co-teacher that insists on using them. As a general rule, listening twice is a good rule of thumb. If the students only need once, it’s too easy. If they need three times, it’s too difficult. Strive for twice!
Can’t Avoid? Don’t Give Up
Are you providing pre-listening tasks? Just as you should orient your students to a reading passage, you should prepare them for listening. Show related pictures. Pull out your KWL charts. Ask your students what they know about _____ topic. Ask them how they feel about ___ topic. Pre-teach any necessary vocabulary or grammar patterns. Then listen. Ask and answer questions about the main idea, then listen again. Give your students some specific information to listen for as you repeat the passage.
If you already do all those things, I would then suggest you get or make a copy of the transcripts. You can read them to your students before or after they listen to the recording, or leave the recording out entirely. A live voice is generally easier to understand, plus they should be accustomed to your accent. You can alter your speech according to their needs: pause between each word (not very real world), pause between phrases and/ or chunks of information, slow down, and more easily repeat only a short segment of a listening passage. You should, of course, aim to reduce these adjustments over time.
Difficult Listening Exercises: Don’t Despair
The moral of this whole story is that if you’re given a really difficult listening exercise and you’re required to do it with your students, don’t give up. There are things you can do to help them out and make difficult listening exercises useful.
Tips and Tricks for Classroom Management
If you teach elementary school students, the book you’ll find extremely useful is ESL Classroom Management Tips and Tricks: For Teachers of Students Ages 6-12. In the book, you can:
- Learn how to get the entire class involved.
- Discover how to plan a lesson and organize your class.
- Learn motivation and discipline strategies that work.
- Get some tips for forging a strong, productive relationship with your co-teacher.
- Prepare yourself with go-to activities for those “surprise” classes.
- And so much more!
You can get the book on Amazon in both print and digital formats. You can read the digital version with the free Kindle reading app on any smartphone, tablet, Mac, or PC.