Monday, 23 July 2012

Reading #1: Listening Strategies in the L2 Classroom: more practice, less testing by Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna

When I read this article, I began to reflect on my teaching practice. Since I work with adult ELL students, one of the major focuses is oral language. We study basic phonological rules and practice reading out loud. We also have time for conversation in class where students can ask each other questions in 1 on 1 conversations and in small group discussions. They get a chance to practice listening to other students and responding to their questions or comments. Sometimes they do a role-play activity with a partner as well. Occasionally we listen to a CD or a conversation online and answer some basic questions. Obviously they get a chance to listen to me as their teacher too.

After reading this article, I realized that I don't teach specific listening strategies like I do with reading or writing. Before we read a story or an article, I always do an activity like a KWL to access their background knowledge, but I haven't done a good enough job of doing that with listening exercises. As Aponte-de-Hanna points out, I need to teach students what is relevant and what is not when they are listening to a passage. I am also interested in trying to do the MALQ questionnaire to find out which listening strategies the students are using. My only concern with MALQ is the students may not be able to read and comprehend the statements in the questionnaire, but I imagine that they could be adapted for beginners. After the questionnaires, I could select a listening strategy, model it, and give the students lots of time to practice using it.

I completely agree with her thoughts on practice vs. testing. Students need loads of practice to develop confidence and to improve their skills before they are tested. My English 1 class is a general language class, so we don't focus specifically on listening and speaking, but I only do a formal assessment of their oral language skills once every six weeks. They have a chance to practice their conversational skills in most of the classes. I am also hoping that some of the tech. tools that we are going to learn will provide me with other ways to allow students to practice listening.

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