Using an Audio Text

Preparation:

1. T or SS find a suitable piece of audio; not too long – perhaps 2-3 minutes maximum. Choose an extract that is interesting for you and your students. You could record the text using a free program like Audio Record Wizard, and edit it using a free program like Audacity (both are freely available online, along with similar programs) – then play it out via speakers in your classroom; or you could play an extract directly from your computer or audio system.

2. Decide what the main topic of the extract is and think of some preliminary discussion questions (or SS could write their own).

3. Write down 10 or 20 keywords from the extract – the words that you think your SS will not know.

4. T prepares blank cards for SS to write on. You could use the templates (from p.108). The number should match the number of vocabulary words and phrases that will be taught, e.g. if there are 10 vocabulary words and phrases, each pair or group should have 10 blank cards.

5. Listening for general understanding: think of a general question for the first time SS listen. This could be an overview question, such as “What is the main point of the extract?”

6. Listening for specific information: think of a task or some comprehension questions based on the extract. For example, a task might be to complete a table, or write down the five points outlined in the extract; comprehension questions will be about the content of the extract, e.g. using wh- questions. (Of course, SS could write their own comprehension questions.)

7. Plan some follow up activities for after the listening text session, for example:

  • grammar focus
  • verb forms revision
  • pronunciation
  • free practice
  • writing

Method:

1. SS work in pairs or small groups. They discuss a few questions based on the topic of the listening extract.

2. T gives out some blank cards for each pair or group.

3. T writes the vocabulary words on the board and elicits meaning and pronunciation. They should be in a random order, not in the order they appear in the extract. SS write down each word or phrase on a separate blank card.

4. T introduces the extract and tells SS where it is from. (Or T may ask SS to guess this.) T sets the listening for general understanding question; SS listen once; check their answer with their partner or group, then group feedback.

5. Listening for specific words and phrases: SS listen for a second time and work together to put the words and phrases in the order that they hear them. T may offer to play the extract again. SS check their answers together. Group feedback.

6. T sets up the listening for specific information task or comprehension questions; T could dictate them, write them on the board, give them on a handout, etc. SS listen for a third time and write down their answers. SS check their answers together. T may offer to play the extract again. Group feedback.

Other Ideas for Using an Audio Text:

  • Pronunciation focus: SS listen to an audio text and:

o repeat words / phrases / sentences
o underline stressed syllables in a sentence and write the stressed vowel sounds (find the ‘sound spine’ – see p.69).
o identify different accents, e.g. Cockney, Welsh, New York, Geordie, etc.
o focus on features of connected speech that they can hear; you could slow down the audio (using a free program like Windows Media Player) to make this clearer

  • SS record the audio text, using their own voices, or trying to do different English accents.
  • SS create an audio text for a different pair or group, e.g. SS could record an interview with each other, or talk about a topic, then create comprehension questions for the other SS to answer. The other SS could note down any errors in their colleagues’ speech – in terms of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and so on, and give them feedback.
  • SS try to predict the content of the audio text, after being given a few clues or being played a few short extracts.
  • T plays part of the audio text, then stops it. SS have to predict what happens next – or say the next line.
  • T plays the end part of an audio text. SS have to guess what goes before.
  • SS try to guess the origin of the audio text after hearing it once.
  • SS ring a bell or buzzer, or stand up, or clap, when they hear one of the keywords as the extract plays.
  • SS get into pairs; Student A from each pair leaves the room; Student B’s listen to part of the audio text and makes notes; Student A’s return and Student B’s have to tell them about the content of the audio text, while Student A’s make notes. Then the roles are reversed for the next part of the audio text, and the activity continues like that until the whole extract has been played.
  • Dictation: T plays the audio text line by line, pausing after each sentence. SS have to write down the whole text. At the end, they compare with a partner, then T plays the extract a second time for SS to check their work for errors – grammatical, spelling, and punctuation. SS could swap their papers and mark each other’s work.
  • SS write a comprehension quiz (see p.49) based on the extract, and swap it with another pair or group.
  • SS write a True, False, or Unknown? quiz (see p.50) based on the extract, and swap it with another pair or group.
  • SS listen and write down 2 (or more) complete sentences from the extract. Some SS write their sentences on the board; T elicits corrections from the other SS. Then the whole class uses these sentences (or some of them) as the basis for Verb Forms Revision practice (e.g. Sentence Blocks, see p.62) and/or Stress, Reduce, Merge Part 1 or 2 activities (from p.69).
  • SS listen to the audio text, then write a summary of the text in exactly 20 words, then 10, then 5, then 1 word. (See p.47.)

Activities that require a little more preparation:

  • If you have (or create) a transcript of the audio text you could:

o make a gap-fill activity – SS listen, read along, and fill in the gaps (e.g. with the target vocabulary words that you want to teach). (See p.52)
o make a text with 20 differences – SS read and mark which words on the handout are different to what they hear in the extract. (See p.55.)
o get SS to listen and read, while circling particular groups of words, e.g. articles, prepositions,
abstract nouns, etc.
o or simply get SS to read as they listen.

  • SS listen and complete a chart or table relating to the extract, which you have prepared.
  • Make a matching activity, e.g. prepare 10 different pictures, which SS have to match to different parts of the extract, or put in order (as above).
  • If you have editing skills, you could cut up the extract into several pieces and put them together (or play them) in the wrong order. SS have to listen and put them back into the correct order. Or, play the extract in the right order, but with sentences missing, which SS have on a handout and have to insert back into the audio text – or delete the sentences and SS have to write and add their own sentences which fit.

Tips:

  • While T might have to spend more time preparing for this kind of lesson, as opposed to, say, a Mode 3 process, it will be time well spent, because you can re-use this lesson with various groups. It is possible to adapt this kind of lesson for various levels, e.g. making it easier by choosing fewer vocabulary words and playing the extract more times, and making it harder by focusing on more vocabulary words – and higher level words from the text – and playing the extract the minimum number of times.
  • T may feel that they do not have the technical ability to record and play their own audio extract, and that relying on the course book CDs is much easier. However, now might be a good time to develop new skills. If you are able to record and play your own audio, you can teach lessons based on the topic of your choice, rather than being limited to what is in your course book. You can also use real audio texts, featuring native speakers with a variety of accents, rather than material that has been specially recorded by actors.
  • You could make the activity easier for lower-level groups by pausing between sections, or even after each sentence.
  • See also Example of a Mode 2 Process Using Song Lyrics, p.105.

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