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Listening activities for online lessons

Let’s look at some examples of listening activities that can be incorporated into online lessons or set for homework. These activities provide learners with a variety of text types. As well as that, they have a clear learning goal and help learners develop a particular listening sub-skill.


Read six outlines of listening lessons (1–6). Match them to the learning objectives (A–F). The learning objectives focus on listening sub-skills.

Outline of listening lesson

  1. Jigsaw listening – for homework, half the class watch one talk and the other half watch a different talk but on the same topic. In the next lesson, learners work in pairs in breakout rooms and compare the speakers’ views and justifications.

  2. A song – a young learner watches a video of people performing a song. The teacher helps the learner to learn the words using pictures and mime, and they sing along.

  3. A dictogloss – in class, the teacher reads out a short text giving factual information. The learner listens and then takes notes about what they heard. These two steps are repeated. The learner then uses their notes to reconstruct the text, typing it onto the whiteboard. The teacher offers feedback and support to help the learner be more accurate. Finally, the learner compares their text to the original.

  4. A film clip – in class, learners watch a short clip from a film with no sound. They predict what they think the people were saying and type their ideas into the chat box. They then watch with the sound on to check.

  5. Questions – in class, the teacher reads out a set of questions. Each time, the learner has to count the number of words they hear. The teacher asks the questions again and the learner answers them.

  6. Which photo? – in class, the teacher displays six photos using the share screen option. The teacher then reads out a sentence to describe one of the photos, saying where something is, e.g. The cat’s sitting on the table. The young learner says which photo the teacher is describing.

Learning objectives

A. To use body language and facial expressions to understand meaning.

B. To listen for the key points and key words/phrases.

C. To implicitly learn new vocabulary and language in an engaging way.

D. To understand prepositions of place.

E. To understand the speaker’s opinion and his/her justification for that opinion.

F. To recognise weak forms and connected speech.

Check your answers

Reflect and share

What other listening activity might you use in an online lesson? What listening sub-skill will it help learners to develop? Share your ideas in the comments.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching English Online

Cambridge Assessment English