Building pupils' skills
Find here some of the aspects of Framework substrand 1.2 and some suggested classroom activities to support your teaching. You can build your pupils' ability to understand and respond appropriately with activities that help them learn to recognise clues in both the structure and language of talk.
- What you could teach
How to know what to listen for
Drawing on your pupils’ knowledge of different types of spoken texts, focus on identifying main points of the text and the intentions behind it. Discuss the different purposes of listening, and the importance of identifying those purposes to prime the listening. For example, pupils can learn to recognise, from the context, when to be prepared to listen for safety instructions.
The ability to recognise structural clues can enhance your pupils’ understanding of the overall content. Introductory remarks will often identify the intended structure, which pupils can listen for as the talk or programme progresses. You could also explore the value of listening for links to new topics, such as:
- a further reason for…
- an additional factor is…
- another aspect of…
- the final contribution towards….
Pupils can learn to recognise the roles that different parts of speech play in structure. For example:
- adjectives (such as main, key or crucial) or adverbs (such as surely or clearly) can indicate importance
- connectives can indicate links, changes in direction or a final summary
- pauses and gestures can also highlight key points.
You can explore the influence of audience on the degree of formality of speech. The less well known the audience or the more formal the situation, the more formal the language needs to be.
You can help your pupils develop appropriate vocabulary to describe the language they find and a range of note-making skills and strategies to record information, ideas and questions.
- Some teaching approaches
- Model the listening process by making notes on the board as you listen to an exemplar text.
- Establish the use of a listening log to track pupils’ developing skills in note making.
- Make note making collaborative, by allocating each pupil a number and then asking all pupils with the same number to listen for and record certain items of information. Groups then jigsaw (all number ones and so on) to collate and present information in the required format.
- Pair pupils and ask each to compose and deliver a short talk to the other who takes notes on key points; they then compare the notes made with the initial plans to assess success in listening accurately.
- Listen to a recorded speech, with half of the class taking notes and the other half not. Ask all the pupils to make a bullet point list of key points, then compare the success of those relying on memory with those taking notes.
- Watch a short documentary programme and ask the pupils to take notes on the content. Discuss the ways in which visual images are used to underline ideas and structure.
Developing listening habits
- Ask pupils to respond physically – raise hands, stand up – or record in some form, every time they hear items of relevant information or specific language features.
- Devise a checklist with pupils for identifying main points and reporting back. Pupils can use it to evaluate how the teacher feeds back main points to the class and also to evaluate their own work in this area.
- Ask pupils to log their spoken language for a day, noting topic and context in which they hear formal English and in which they hear informal English.
Make purposes and outcomes for listening clear. Present a task on a handout in the same way as you would a writing task. As follow-up to listening you might have pupils:
- write a counter-argument to a talk, reading or programme which presents a particular viewpoint
- use newly gathered information in a formal debate or whole-class discussion
- write a review of a visiting speaker’s performance, judging the formality of the delivery and identifying key vocabulary and grammar.