The Effect of Frequent Dictation in Foreign Language Lessons

This is a guest post written by Tetyana Skrypkina

In my teaching foreign languages practice I do use frequent dictations with my students. For it to be more successful, before the dictation I provide students with the list of unknown words and collocations, which might not be recognized by them due to the accent or speed of speech.  Firstly, I give the list of unknown words, we read and translate (if necessary; and yes, I use the L1 for explanations), play the whole tape, then students are to write one chunk of meaningful speech after another, keeping the chunks in their mind. This helps strengthen their memory.study-921885_1920

At first, this activity might be time consuming, but if you practice it regularly, each time you will need less and less time.

Here is a brief example of my German classes. I had a one-to-one Skype lessons with a student .  The books we use have a CD with audio, each track is approximately 1 min 30 seconds long. In the beginning, it took us about 30 minutes to cope with one audio. But as we kept doing this activity, it took less and less time. Continue reading

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

ELTblog.net Podcast Episode 1

Welcome to the first episode of the new ELT podcast series from ELTblog.net! You can tune into the first episode by clicking play below.

As promised in the podcast, there will be a link to all blog posts and articles mentioned in each episode. Below you will find links to everything covered in Episode 1:

How Do We Teach Listening?

Regardless of whether they are NQT’s or have many years of teaching experience behind them, I always like to ask teachers: why do we teach listening?

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The answers have been wide and varied. However, they are usually one of the following: we teach listening because we have to, it’s what our CELTA course taught us to do, it helps the learners to learn connected speech.

Is that really why we teach listening skills?

Continue reading

The Lost Art of… Recording?

In his entry on technology on the A-Z of ELT blog, Scott Thornbury rightly points out that there are “good reasons for integrating technology into language education, and there are bad reasons.” When it comes to technology, 600px-Sone_Recordingswe’re always looking forwards: the newest hardware, the latest update, the best app.
Rarely do we look back at what once was. Should we perhaps be
doing exactly that?

In order to understand how our industry has grown, ELT teachers need to possess a solid grounding in what came before: an appreciation of the effectiveness of the Communicative Method means understanding the flaws of the Grammar-Translation Method, for example. However, a retrospective look into the past shouldn’t always result in a negative outlook – not everything from ‘back then’ was bad.

Continue reading