Saturday, 25 February 2017

ListeningEVO17

Having been a participant of the ListeningEVO course, I feel the desire to express my deepest gratitude to all the organizers and especially to our moderator, Ms Olya Sergeeva. All the input material we were exposed to was highly interesting and vastly useful for a listening teacher. The course lasted five weeks January 8 to February 12, 2017. Below I'm recording some of the takeaways from my participation in this MOOC based either on new knowledge or high interest of content to me.

To start with, reinforcing autonomous listening through an out-of-school listening scheme was stressed during our first week of the course. Technology integration can obviously facilitate this scheme. Some stimulating suggestions for learners include listening to radio stations (e.g. 
http://www.listenlive.eu/uk.html, podcasts (e.g. https://independentenglish.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/podcasts/, favourite songs (e.g. https://lyricstraining.com/), audiobooks (e.g. http://www.loyalbooks.com/), youtube videos, web tools with audio features (e.g. https://quizlet.com/) and many more online resources curated by the course participants on a shared google spreadsheet (https://goo.gl/FQZbYz).

Something additional that particularly struck me during week1 was the shadowing technique as a useful approach to encourage autonomous listening and speaking practice. Shadowing requires EFL learners to listen to a short audio text many times. The short audio text should be saved on each learner’s device so that they can listen to it outside class as regularly as possible; an accompanying transcript should also be provided to the students. The practice stage of this technique encourages students to repeat and copy, as precisely as possibly, the speaker’s pronunciation, rhythm, pace and other speech features. As a subsequent step, the students record themselves on an audio recording tool such as Audacity when they feel they sound similar to the speaker on their audio text.

In week 2 I enjoyed Elena Wilkinson's neat presentation on the structure of a traditional listening lesson which can be enhanced through the use of authentic materials and real-life tasks. Here are my notes on E. Wilkinson's live session.

ListeningEVO, wk2 by anthiharou

Week 3 focused on the importance of 21st century skills, critical thinking and HOTS (higher order thinking tasks) in the design of listening tasks to engage learners.

Weeks 4 and 5 proved to be a gem for me as I acquired valuable knowledge shared by outstanding experts on the topic such as R. Cauldwell, S. Thorn and O. Sergeeva. Listening is quite troublesome for ELLs because words have a variety of soundshapes and are not visible as they are in reading. Therefore, we need to prepare learners to cope with the jungle-type situations of messy speech they will face in real life. Exposing learners to authentic listening texts with a variety of unruly sounds, and providing them with decoding tasks to train them to recognize individual words are means which enable ELLs to reach the ultimate goal which is meaning. Gap-fills and dictations can be effective activities in raising learners' awareness of phonological and other speech features such as word or sentence stress, elision, glottal stop, schwa, assimilation, intrusive sounds in a stream of authentic speech.  

At this point the use of technology can facilitate the implementation of decoding skills to a great extent. Aegisub is a helpful open-source tool which can reinforce decoding. An enlightening tutorial supports teachers in the way they can leverage this tool in class or in the way they can guide their learners to use it in an autonomous mode. Deciphering difficult chunks of connected speech can be addressed by replaying an isolated line of a subtitled video or audio file which has been uploaded on Aegisub. Moreover, PlayPhrase.me can be integrated in teaching listening by getting students practise discrimination of authentic speech through snippets from TV series. Antony Schmidt has written an enlightening blog post on the use of this website for listening decoding purposes. Last but not least, one of my favourite websites was TubeQuizard which provides a great collection of listening quizzes and also enables users to train with their favourite subtitled videos.  O. Sergeeva provides a nice tutorial on how to create listening decoding quizzes for learners using this tool. 

To conclude, I enjoyed an amazing course on how to teach listening. I liked the well-organized structure of the MOOC, the wealth of interesting input materials such as videos, articles, lesson plans and presentations, my interaction with other participants, the badges I earned, Ms O. Sergeeva's enthusiasm and encouragement as a moderator, the facebook page, the twitter posts and, of course, the new knowledge I acquired.  

Written by Anthippi Harou

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