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A New Twist on Listening Exercises

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Listening is one of the toughest skills to improve, simply because the students can't work at their own pace. They might read at a slower pace, or work out the meaning of a sentence on paper before moving on, which is simply impossible and impractical in a conversation.

I always try to add an element of listening in each lesson, and not just with an activity prepared beforehand. Any activity can be adjusted to incorporate listening, which also helps put a new twist on the usual exercises. Try one of the following:

1. A word search in which you dictate some or all of the words first, then check the spelling as a class. The students then complete the word search (in class, or as homework).

2. Follow the instructions of a worksheet, but do several of the exercises, sentences, etc. aloud as a class. You can have the students work alone, or in pairs. And with smaller classes, you can always ask additional questions not on the worksheet to get everyone participating.

3. Extend an activity with a listening and speaking exercise. For example, after completing a worksheet on the future tense, give three or four new, original sentences about your plans for the weekend. Students listen, and then work in pairs to ask an appropriate follow-up question. You can then have the students do the same: tell, ask, and answer in pairs or groups.

Chris Cotter

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