Online Treasures: Free online downloads for listening practice

I discovered an interesting site with audio recordings that are all public domain. (The site states that copyright laws may differ outside the U.S.) LibriVox has a couple thousand selections to browse through: Aesop’s Fables, L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, the preservationist John Muir’s adventures in Yosemite, and the works of Mark Twain, to name a few. I’ve listened to some selections, and so far I’m happy with the readers’ clarity of speech. Because this is unadapted literature, the recordings would be appropriate only for upper level students. Consider some possibilities:

  • Incorporate a regular listening session in your weekly schedule. Longer works are already broken into segments. Also, you can choose to work with a long recording of, say, 30 minutes and spread it out over the course of one month, allowing for appropriate review and predictions from week to week. Each month can be devoted to a new author.
  • Prepare a vocabulary list for the class to study prior to listening. Simple Q&A can serve as a comprehension check in post-listening. Listen a second time and follow with one or two discussion questions.
  • Shorter works, such as The Fox and the Grapes (approx. 20 seconds) are appropriate for a gapped exercise. Allow students to listen once. Then distribute a partial copy of the story. During a second listening have students try to fill in the missing words. Let them compare with a partner before a third listening. Correct the exercise as a class before a fourth and final listening.
  • Shorter works also are appropriate for oral retelling or self-recording. At home or in a language lab, students can be asked to listen to a passage (30 seconds or less), record it (through a computer accessory such as Sound Recorder), and submit it for your review.

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