authentic listening

Lesson idea: Tomlinson’s text-driven approach

In Developing Materials for Language Teaching (2013) Tomlinson introduces a text-driven approach to materials development. He goes into quite a bit of detail regarding text selection, offers a suggested framework for the approach and provides a practical example (pages 99-114). I won’t attempt to summarise, I’ll just say read the chapter! It was the most useful and applicable reading I undertook on my recent MA course.

For the purpose of this post, here’s the framework overview, taken from Tomlinson (2013:110, ©Bloomsbury)

click on the picture to enlarge

We had to plan a lesson using the text-driven approach for a unit assignment. I chose to use my favourite poem as the text – Blessing by Imtiaz Dharker. Here’s a nice dramatization of it (I think originally BBC):

You can find the full text here

These activities are pitched at upper-intermediate, for young adults/adults.

I’m based in Bangkok, hence the personalisation in the first activity… (more…)

Some thoughts on authentic listening materials

I’ve been a materials writer for 2 months now. It’s about time I started reflecting on it. I haven’t had time to do so as it’s a very busy role – hence the lack of blog activity.

I’m currently writing lessons for a functional, task-led syllabus. There’s a strong focus on speaking, listening and pronunciation. Each lesson has a listening text (well, bout 90% of them do) which is a model for the main task that students complete during a lesson. Target language and target pronunciation features (normally suprasegmental) all appear in the listening text. The text itself is commercially produced, by which I mean I write it, it’s kind of semi-authentic.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the nature of these listening materials since starting the job (and even since teaching the product). I’m trying to decide whether I’m pro- or anti- when it comes to these semi-authentic materials, or whether I need to have either stance. Here are a few of my thoughts. (more…)

Lesson idea: using sports commentaries in class

Have you ever heard of the ‘instantaneous present simple’? I hadn’t until a recent diploma module. Apparently it’s used to describe events or occurrences with some level of immediacy. You find it in newspaper headlines (like ‘Brad marries Angelina’), verbs of communication (‘your mother tells me that…’), and references to the future (‘the bus leaves at 6’). I didn’t really get what it was to be honest, until I considered the example of sports commentaries: (more…)

Video lesson: sickness benefits in the UK

Here’s a fairly topical upper-intermediate level lesson, as we get closer to the general election. I saw this report on Sky News back in mid-February and thought it would be a really good talking point. Apparently, David Cameron is thinking of cutting sickness benefits for people who don’t accept help, or try and help themselves. Most of the report focuses on obesity, but they chuck other things into the mix like alcohol addiction, which seem like a separate issue altogether.

Anyway, take a look…

So this is a completely authentic text. It’s pretty difficult to grasp a lot of it, but learners can definitely get a general understanding of the issues. Obviously this is a touchy topic for some, and the resources I’ve created are designed to provoke discussion and opinions. Consider the audience carefully – mine were students at a humanities school who expressed a desire to learn a bit about the welfare state.

sickness benefits lesson resources

teacher answers

General aims:

  • Students will practise listening for gist and detail in the context of an authentic news report
  • Students will learn about the UK benefits system
  • Students will practising expressing opinions/debating in the context of the provision of state benefits

Lesson time: 90 mins approx


Students discuss the following

What causes someone to become fat?

Elicit ideas (lifestyle, mental health issues, genetics, etc)