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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Teaching listening online. What are the similarities to teaching listening face-to-face? Well, I think the similarities are the framework. So we still have the same kind of procedures that we would follow in a face-to-face classroom for delivering listening lessons. So you’d still have a prelistening task or activity of some sort, a while-listening task or activity for comprehension or for developing a specific subskill. And then you’d have a follow-up, maybe a bit of language work or maybe a speaking activity or that sort of thing. So the principles remain the same, that we still have our kind of framework for listening lesson. But there are some things that are different.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds Yeah, I think quite often, online lessons are one-to-one, not always, but they seem to be more commonly one-to-one. And just as one-to-one lessons face-to-face, I think quite often the teacher becomes a listening resource. So the student listens to the teacher, and that’s how they get their listening practise. So we can use live listening tasks. But I think task is important here, isn’t it? Yeah, because otherwise, you’re talking all the time. The students are supposedly listening all the time. But who knows what is happening in their head or whether they’re understanding anything. So again, principals of having a task with whatever it is that you’re doing. But live listenings are really useful, I think, and easy for teachers.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds So do you want to describe one? So it could be, for example, I describe a member of my family to a lower-level student or group of students. And you would set the task before that. Yeah. And the task would be pick out five things that I describe. Exactly. Yeah. And then when they give you the answers, you can check if they’ve heard correctly. They know they’ve heard correctly. And if they haven’t, you can then help them to work out why they didn’t hear correctly. Was there some linking that makes the words difficult to understand or something like that?

Skip to 1 minute and 46 seconds But it’s also important, I think, and useful to be able to bring in recorded materials as well because then in your lessons, the students get a different accent, they get a different voice to become accustomed to other English. It is, yeah. And it’s also important to set tasks that focus on particular subskills of listening. Exactly. So, for example, listening for specific information, you might bring in a recording of– I don’t know– the weather forecast. Students have to listen for particular bits of information for their particular area or something like that. Absolutely, yeah. It is important though when you are bringing in audio or video from other sources that you can actually play it through your platform. So it’s usually OK.

Skip to 2 minutes and 24 seconds But it’s always worth, I think, just checking– Yeah. –having a trial run, maybe getting a family member to be at the other end as the student– just to check that they can actually hear it. And there’s also copyright issues, which are exactly the same as they are for face-to-face. Absolutely, yeah.

Teaching listening skills in online lessons

Let’s now think about teaching listening skills in an online lesson. When you teach a listening lesson online, the structure of the lesson is likely to be the same as a face-to-face lesson: you’ll establish a context and engage the learner(s), set a task or tasks while learners listen and then follow up with some kind of speaking task or analysis of language. However, there are some different approaches when teaching listening online.

Task 1

You’re going to watch Lindsay and Marie Therese talking about online listening lessons. What do you think they might say about these things?

1. The main source of listening practice for online learners.

2. How a teacher can best exploit teacher talking time as listening practice.

3. The benefits of using recorded material.

4. What you need to check before a lesson.

Task 2

Now, watch Lindsay and Marie Therese and check your ideas.

Check your answers.

Reflect and share

What challenges can you foresee when teaching an online listening lesson? How might you overcome those challenges? Share your ideas in the comments.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching English Online: China and Beyond

Cambridge Assessment English