Compare these two photos; which class do you think was more dynamic ?
The basic lesson was the same: what are you doing now, add a connector (or discourse marker) and say what you want in the future.
Students are taught how to use vernacular language, practise changes in intonation and alterations in stress, as well as chunking (natural linking together of words).
The photos, as the saying goes, tell their own story.
Photo 1 is from a high-level IELTS class where I wanted to increase vocabulary, and encourage the students to use more intonation … or basically ANY intonation in their voice.
The topic went down like the proverbial Led Zeppelin (and I wasn’t feelin’ a Whole Lotta Love for the class). I managed to elicit some half-arsed replies before they returned to their mobiles (or cell phones if you’re in the USA) or their natural comatosed state.
On the other hand, take a gander (have a look) at the second photo; same basic lesson target, but my goodness, what a difference, and this from an intermediate class.
Both classes were small in size (about six students) and predominantly teenagers, so how do we account for the chasm between them ?
To use academic language (for one of my new IELTS students):
This would seem to suggest that it was the students, as opposed to the lesson, that was the issue.
Words such as ‘inspire’ or ‘motivate’ are synonymous with teaching. However, as someone who attempts to teach, I must add that a successful lesson relies on synergy; one cannot motivate those who actively resist being motivated.
Teachers only have so much energy, and they can’t afford to waste it on customers who shuffle into class, scowling, ignoring the teacher, sitting at the back clutching their bag, defensively, in front of them before becoming engrossed in their phones and ignoring any questions put to them. I’m not talking about children here, but young adults or adults, on a course that they chose, and need for their future.
I wish I were.
So, to my great students, who come to class willing to learn, to be active, to practice and are polite and respectful:
Some notes I found as I was cleaning my old Apple Mac. I’m not sure where they are from; a book, website or centre notes. I thought they may be of some use to teachers of IELTS.
Before I do a listening practice, I tell my students to R.U.P.
read, underline key words and predict the answer.
(Going from meaning to language, using background knowledge to understand the meaning of a message).
Students generate a list of things they already know about a topic and things they would like to learn more about, then listen and compare.
Students generate a set of questions they expect to hear about a topic, then listen to see if they are answered.
Students look at the question sheet and identify its structure before listening.
Students read a list of key points to be covered in a talk, then listen to see which ones are mentioned.
(Going from language to meaning, using linguistic knowledge clues to understand the message).
Students listen and distinguish between positive and negative statements.
Students listen and identify key words that occur in a spoken text.
Students listen to a conservation and complete a form.
Students use stress and intonation to identify word and sentence functions.
SOME EXAMPLES OF MICRO LISTENING SKILLS:
Discriminate among the distinctive sounds
Recognize the functions of stress patterns, intonation contours
Recognize reduced forms of words (contractions)
Recognize grammatical word classes (noun, verb, etc.), systems (tense, agreement, pluralization), patterns, rules and elliptical forms
Recognize that a particular meaning may be expressed in different grammatical forms
Recognize cohesive devices in spoken discourse
So, I made a lesson plan for teaching section 4 of the listening test like this.
1. read the instructions carefully to see what they are expected to do (especially the number of words they can write for each answer) R.U.P.
2. identify the topic of the lecture. Teacher can activate their background knowledge by asking them what they know about it, maybe showing a short video clip
3. identify the structure of the test (how many parts, key words) so that students do not get lost in the middle of the listening
4. pair a weak student and a strong student so that they can help each other in predicting the answers
a. part of speech (e.g. expressions or idioms)
c. meaning (make a list of guesses to help the weaker students)
1. Students listen to the recording and do the task individually.
2. Peer check
3. Task correction (the teacher then plays the recording again bit by bit to check the answers)
1. Students work in group to share their experience after doing the task. What difficulties they had or how they could recognize the answers. (5minutes).
To build confidence, I often play a recording up to three times, highlighting new vocabulary or expressions. I then let the students write the answer on the board, so everyone can see, correcting if necessary.
2. sharpening the macro skils:
Activity to help students recognize paraphrases:
Students stand in 2 lines. There are 2 circles in front. The teacher shows 1 word (e.g crowded) and plays the recording. When the students hear the paraphrase of that word (e.g a lot of people), the first pair jump into the circle. Who can do that first gets 1 point for his team. The first pair then go the back and the procedure is repeated with another word. This can be adapted for older and adult students.
Activity to teach new vocabulary after listening:
The teacher can choose 5 or 6 words that he would like to teach and print them out. Then, put students into groups with a set of words for each group and play the recording. When students hear the word from that set, they have to quickly knock on their desk and take that piece of paper. Who gets the most words wins. The students in group read the words and explain the meaning. Teacher checks the pronunciation and meaning as a class.
The Teacher may wish to set a speaking task related to the topic as a post-listening activity
I believe the students can do better if they are well-prepared in ‘pre-listening’, and for ‘post-listening’, if we can make use of the recording to teach them some skills in doing the task, they will perform better the next time.