I’ve made suggestions for summer reading, so why not summer listening? I can’t take all the credit for this idea. A private student asked that I put together a study guide for the two months we won’t be meeting. The request is specifically for listening practice.
I’m trying to compromise on who should set the tasks. I believe the student should assume some responsibility even in the planning stage. However, I know it is my role to establish guidelines. My study guide begins with two bullet points:
- Set a schedule. Choose a realistic number of days and minutes you can hold to from week to week.
- Choose your resources. Your resources will match your goals. If you seek to understand more conversational English, your choices will differ from those of a student who wishes to master more vocabulary. You can work with more than one resource at a time, but you should be consistent in the manner of practice.
My student is very diligent, and I know she can find 10+ minutes a day, 6-7 days a week. I created a model for two weeks, showing suggestions for each day. It will be up to her to create a specific plan for the remaining weeks of the summer. I’m also deliberately listing a number of appropriate resources because I’d like her to make selections. Taking ownership of one’s self-study is key.
Practices I recommend:
- Dictations can be done 1-2 times a week. I’ve encouraged a number of students to work with my Oral Reading Fluency texts for listening practice. They can listen, write down what they hear, check their work, and then listen again. This sequence can be repeated with online stories from sites like Speakaboos or very short excerpts from any number of films. The YT channel Move Clips already nicely breaks up longer films. One clip could offer enough content for a couple days of study. I’ve been able to find screen plays online for some films, so students can check their work.
- Direct study of speech patterns is helpful. Within the past year, I worked with two different students on linking. Knowledge of connected speech boosts listening comprehension. For self-study, I’ve recommended some of the videos posted by Stacy Hagen on EnglishwithStacy. In addition to linking, she addresses stress and reduction.
- Extended listening practice is slotted for one day a week on my model. (Hopefully, the student will decide to do more.) Not surprisingly, I listed some ESL listening practice sites (audio with interactive exercises), but I feel it’s just as important to simply immerse oneself in the language and see how much can be soaked up. No pressure. Just listen as long as you’d like. The more enjoyable, the better. This is where I feel there can be variation from week to week. Songs, poetry, films, TED Talks, discussion on NPR (All Things Considered), or documentaries. They’re all possible choices. This is where we might also list materials we wouldn’t dare include in a regular lesson. For instance, I personally enjoyed War World Z as an audiobook because it was read very well by different actors. However, I admit there’s so much violence and vulgarity, it would be offensive to some. As part of summer listening, though, an adult student might enjoy the dramatic reading and the different accents. If you’re looking for resources that are more appropriate for a general audience, here are two I highlighted for my student:
There are plenty of famous speeches and biographies posted online as well. What resources do you like to recommend for listening practice?