Listening, Beginners and Authentic Materials

When you’re learning a new language, authentic materials can be quite scary and off-putting. While this is true for all skills, such as reading a newspaper or trying to maintain a conversation with a native speaker, it’s particularly true when it comes to listening. When turning your ear to an authentic radio programme, TV episode or eaves dropping on a conversation in a café, it can be so hard to make heads or tails of what’s being said.headphones-791078_1280

This is because listening is live: the words are spoken and then are gone again in a split second. You don’t have the option to go back and look at the words again, like in reading, or check that you’ve understood it correctly, like in speaking. Listening happens in real-time and you’ve got to get it the first time, otherwise you might not get it right at all.

Listening is a challenge for language learners of all levels. However, where higher level learners can manage to understand a lot of what they hear, lower level learners are lucky if they can pick out a word or two from what must seem like a sea of noise.

Listening isn’t easy for lower levels, which is why we often use specially-made materials for these levels. Such materials often take the form of dumbed down texts, with high frequency words, clear pronunciation and a slow pace. Of course, the pedagogical justification for this can be found in theories of learning, such as Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development.

However, despite the methodologically sound reasons for simplifying listening texts, is there any justification for exposing lower level learners to authentic listening materials? Keep reading to find out… Continue reading

Authentic Listening | 3 Ideas

Learning a foreign involves a lot: new vocabulary to learn, grammar to acquire and sounds to master. It isn’t a challenge for the light-hearted! This couldn’t be truer for English Language Learners. Not only do they have to deal with the Language Learning Process, as for any other language, but they also have to manage a language which differs greatly between its written and spoken forms.3261686821_2b0aced89c_o

As languages go, English is definitely not a phonetically written language. Other languages, such as Polish or German, largely spell the language as it sounds. Of course, there are sounds and special clusters of letters you have to learn, but they generally don’t change: you could say there are hard and fast spelling rules in those languages.

When it comes to English, however, there aren’t many hard and fast rules. Rough, through and though all contain the same -ough cluster, yet it is pronounced completely differently in each one.

This, of course, has a big effect on Listening Skills. Many courses, teachers and schools teach the language from the written word. Think of all the notes you get your learners to make in a single lesson – even in the very first lesson!

Listening is an important skill that needs to be practised not only regularly but authentically. So what can English Language Learners to work on their Listening Skills, even the beginners? Continue reading to find out more… Continue reading