Lesson 26: teaching english listening for b1 level learners

Ways and stages of developing listening skills

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Ways and stages of developing listening skills

In the secondary schools listening process is a part of the active learning process to help students to acquire a certain level of listening skills.

Thus listening is a complex skill which deserves special attention. The teacher should realize what key task can be most important for students, in particular:

  • prediction skills;

  • scanning abilities for extracting specific information;

  • skimming abilities for getting the general idea;

  • abilities for extracting detailed information;

  • the ability to recognize function and discourse pattern;

The teacher needs instructional model that accounts not only for the core factors of how listeners process information (bottom-up, top-down, integration process) but also all the dimensions that may affect the way messages are perceived and processed.

Listening comprehension is developed by doing the necessary tasks shaped as a system or complex. From the first lesson of FLT in schools is paid attention to the development of listening skills.

It is necessary to point out that the grammatical and lexical material that is assimilated by learners in speaking and reading is also regarded to teaching listening. Teacher's speech is important for students listening skills development because it is a sample of the English language. Teacher should organize English classrooms in English.

Listening comprehension (LC) exercises are leading during the lesson. The goal of practical lesson is to get information in English. Content of speaking and listening/ reading materials is assimilated by listening.

LC as a means of teaching is used as 1) a way of introduction of the language material in oral form (in a talk, in speech patterns); 2) a means of developing well-set acoustic images of language phenomena (words) together with their meanings, which is ensured by multiple perception of the same material by the ear; 3) a means of acquiring pronunciation subskills because giving only instruction won't help learners to pronounce a sound other than their mother tongue if they don't hear how it is pronounced by a teacher or by the speaker; 4) a means of mastering can be technique of reading aloud

LC as the means of teaching allows multiple listening of one and the same speech material while LC as a communicative activity constitutes a skill of speech comprehension by ear at single (presented but once) perception (presentation).

Listening is an act of interpreting speech that one receives through ears. Hearing is an act of receiving the language through ears without interpretation. In real life we can hear somebody speak but actually do not listen to what is being said. Listening is a communicative skill to get the meaning from what we hear. People listen in order to remember what they hear verbally or for the sake of meaning retention. They listen in order to evaluate critically what they hear or to give supportive empathy. They can derive aesthetic pleasure from what they hear or to produce a listener's feedback. They can fulfill the instructions in the received text.

Listening to the spoken language involves hearing the sounds, recognizing words, understanding different accents, understanding intonation, coping with «noise» (external interference and indistinct pronunciation), recognizing sentences, predicting the meaning, understanding a whole discourse.

There are different ways of teaching LC in practice. One of them is teaching language materials firstly then language skills. Via this method all student should must study words and word phrases, sentences then students' attention is paid to content of the learned material. This method is considered as inefficient because it take much time.

The second way is developing integrative skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. This method is more effective in teaching LC, because students have opportunity to practice I ( during writing, reading and speaking on the basis of the concrete language material (language units and texts). As resources for teaching listening technical tools such as radio, tape recorder, language laboratories, internet resources - audio, video can be used.

Perception and comprehension are difficult for learners because they should discriminate speech sounds quickly, retain them while h earing a word, a phrase, or a sentence and recognize this as a sense unit. Learners are very slow in grasping what they hear because they are conscious of the linguistic forms they perceive by the ear. These results in misunderstanding or a complete failure of understanding. When listening in the English classrooms the students should be very attentive and work hard in mastering listening skills.

Teaching students in listening skills is accompanied with difficulties for both teachers and students.

They are unknown language, unintelligible manner of presentation, unfamiliar topic, lack of own experience, no visual clues, no expectation about the text. That's why it is necessaiy for teachers to

  • raise students awareness about characteristics of spontaneous speech;

  • teach them how to construct from key words and use the context and their knowledge of English to help them understand the message;

  • develop students' awareness in formation of predictions;

  • organize intensive listening practice;

  • use visual support for the audio text (pictures, sketches), contextualizing the listening situation;

  • give a chance to listen audio text more than once to understand the main idea and get accustomed to the voices;

  • organize peer-evaluation before the class feedback.

The teachers should take into consideration the following three main factors which can ensure success in developing learners' skills in listening: (1) linguistic material for listening; (2) the content of the material suggested for listening comprehension; (3) conditions in which the material is presented.

If to organize LC of a text presented by a teacher or using audio texts the teacher must do:

1) organization of introductory talk with the aim to prepare learners for comprehension of a text by the ear;

2) preparation of students for listening with focus on the situation and encouraging students to predict (working at the title of a text; removing the language difficulties of the text (phonetic, lexical, grammatical);

  1. direction to the primary comprehension of the text;

  2. primary presentation of the audio text to the pupill with thfl help of visual supports (pictures, adequate to the content of the text) or verbal supports (key-words, word combinations, phrases),

  3. check up understanding of the general content of the text. LC is a means of assessment of students' comprehension when they hear or read aloud a text. Properly used oral language ensures learner`s progress in language learning and, consequently, arouses their interest in the subject;

6) the second presentation of the text listening with task performance (listening for details, listening for the gist, listening for inferences).

7) organization of feedback. It can be organized within I) not deep understanding; 2) general understanding; 3) fully understanding; 4) understanding from critical point of view.

Systems of exercises for LC are divided into two: special and non- special exercises.

In non-special exercises LC - for example, at the beginning of the lesson learners should listen to the teacher's topic.

Special exercises divided into 2 groups: 1) preparatory exercises and 2) real LC exercises. The object of the preparatory exercises is acoustic signal. The aim of this type of exercises is preventing difficulties (remedy work).

We can refer phonetic exercises aimed at perception of separate words on the flow of speech by the year, separate comprehending phrases and understanding their rhythmic and intonation pattern, types of sentences.

The requirements to the speech exercises for teaching LC are as follows: they should provide proper drill in LC with the regard ol" its psychological and linguistic nature as a language activity (limited time of comprehension, tempo of speech), peculiarities of different language activities (dialogue, monologue); they should have educational character, i.e. they should help learners to overcome grammatical, lexical and structural difficulties of LC not in isolation, as it takes place in language exercises, but in connection with speech; they should provide the development of listening skills step by step in accordance with the level of learners' command of the target language, the character of the text etc.

Exercises in comprehension includes working on the language form, meaning and function (lexical, grammatical, phonetical material of an audio text).

Such exercises should provide intuitive comprehension of language material, which can be made possible if: a) well-set auditory images of language phenomena are created; b) long-term and short-term auditory memory are developed; c) inner speech in the target language is developed, but it has a broken character1.

Aim of the preparatory exercises is to prevent or overcome linguistic and psychological difficulties before the presentation of an audiotext, so that the listener could concentrate his/her attention on comprehension of the content.

For example: listen to a pair of words and say what sounds are the same in them; try to recognize a new word among the familiar ones (clap your hands...); name nouns which are most often used with the following adjective; define the function of a word (is it a verb, noun or adj.).

The aim of the speech exercises is to develop skills of comprehension of speech. Via this type of exercises we teach students to divide an audiotext into parts, to find the main idea of a text, to extract new information from the text. Speech exercises are differentiated according to the developing auditory subskills in a dialogue and a monologue.

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