In a Nutshell...
This is a listening comprehension script-Q&A format similar to many teachers may have seen in textbooks and (for that matter) standardized international English language tests such as TOEIC, TOEFL, IELTS, etc. The big difference is that teachers can make their own scripts or select and apply other materials, following that up with comprehension questions targeted to the script's content and/or the age and level of the students. These templates are great for teachers who want to have some measure of control over what their students listen to and what sorts of 'comprehension' they would like to encourage or test in the students.
Background and Theory
This basic format was set up to allow me to create listening comprehension materials that target four main considerations: (1) Giving students more extended listening scripts and a greater range of comprehension skills and question answering capability; (2) Providing students with incremental practice in listening comprehension leading to confidence in handling Part 4 of the TOEIC and part 1c of the TOEFL - using content the students could handle for their age and level and gradually extending the difficulty level as students progress (important for EFL contexts); (3) Creating longer listening scripts and more complex questions for handling academic content and comprehension in English, by applying listening to content covered in reading and writing classes (an important ESL-orientated consideration); and (4) Providing the teacher with a professional looking format that allows him/her to 'whip up' a very thorough listening comprehension exercise very quickly that is versatile and can be applied for different purposes.
Points 1, 2 and 4 above are demonstrated in the example materials presented to the right. In this case I was beginning a new class, with students who didn't know me all that well, and while I had some indications of their ability according to the level they were assigned to, I wasn't exactly sure just how much they could handle. The Listening Comprehension materials were used to make a script about myself (to give students an introduction to their new teacher), and the questions I made about this script were designed to see whether students could identify true and false, basic details, inferences, and sequences of information. As can be seen, with a basic approach such as this one, in my first class I was able to kill many birds with one stone!
Overview and Application
How teachers use this supplement will vary considerably according to what their goals are for a class and what sorts of listening comprehension skills are considered important for a class to learn how to handle. There are two worksheets applicable to the supplement (contained in a single document in either PDF or Microsoft Word format) - a script and a question/answer sheet. When a script is to be made from reading or writing content, it can be copied and pasted onto the script page, but questions will need to be hand-written (PDF format) or typed (Microsoft Word) into the Q&A section on the second page.
The questions used to build or test comprehension will vary of course, but here are some suggestions (not necessarily in order of difficulty):
-> True/False Questions
-> Gap-fill questions
-> Questions about MAIN IDEAS
-> Questions about DETAILS
-> Questions about INFERENCES
-> SUMMARIZING information
-> Questions about the SEQUENCE OF INFORMATION
-> Making reasonable PREDICTIONS based on the information
It is not necessary to include all these question types in one worksheet, and neither is it necessary to be providing 4 multiple choice answer options. It is strongly recommended that questions be used to build skills incrementally, mastering one sort of skill before adding a new one.
The nature and length of the script is important - generally speaking, the more demanding a script is in terms of its grammar, vocabulary or academic content, the shorter it should be. This depends to a great degree on student levels and proficiency, and individual teachers will need to make their own judgements according to the teaching/learning context they find themselves in.
Another consideration in applying this sort of listening comprehension is - will you allow students to see the questions before they listen to the script (good for giving them an indication of what they need to listen for), and for that matter, will you allow them to see and attempt to answer the questions while the script is being read to them? At the end of this 'difficulty/style' spectrum, you may like to try having students listen to the entire script without seeing the comprehension questions at all, and following the listening distribute the Q&A section. Exactly how you go about this will depend of course on age and level, so it is recommended that teachers start at the easy end of the spectrum and then work up to a level of difficulty that appears to be 'stretching' the students without torturing them. Personally I tend to increase the difficulty relatively quickly, because having a class of students with the capacity to pay attention to and actively try to comprehend extensive oral information (not just for lesson content - things like extensive instructions or feedback) generally makes for a more proficient class across most learning areas.
The better the attention span and general comprehension ability of the students, the smoother the class generally runs and the less I have to repeat myself!
Note that by connecting the listening to reading and/or writing content that has already been done in class, students are likely to bring previous knowledge and familiarity to the listening activity, which allows the difficulty level to be increased. For example, if the extended listening script is based on a reading the students are already familiar with, I would probably not allow students to see the comprehension questions before listening to the script, and I would deliberately vary the questions asked to make sure they were addressing information that was not necessarily covered during the reading lesson. To help the class 'get ready' for listening of this nature, I would probably start the class with a general discussion about the reading or writing content to be covered and bring the concepts and key details back into their minds through elicitation and quick Q&A.
Of course, teachers in other contexts or with different learning objectives may have a different set of priorities to deal with, and they are encouraged to experiment with and apply listening comprehension activities however it appears to benefit the class concerned.
Linking to the Activity from a Reading Syllabus
Some suggestions for how the activity can be applied as a follow up to reading classes have already been mentioned above under "Overview/Application". The main objective here is to ensure that students get practice with listening to passages and texts in addition to understanding them in reading, because there are different attentional skills required and listening tends to be somewhat harder. It is important, however, when we consider that a significant amount of extended announcements or instructions are often 'read' from a script, even if we are only using listening to comprehend or respond to them. Consider for example announcements at railway stations or airports, or for that matter 'oral' instructions for things like tests. These sorts of discourse are not strictly 'natural' - they are mostly pre-recorded and read straight off a piece of paper, making them sharp and precise without the usual pauses and repetitions and redundancies we hear in natural spoken/conversational language.
Therefore, EFL/ESL students can benefit from listening to almost any kind of reading content. I tend to prefer content-based readings that focus on academic knowledge, or extended instructions or explanations. As previously mentioned, the sorts of comprehension sought may be a little different to what was being looked for during a reading lesson, but many (especially main ideas, details, inferences) share common ground in reading and listening comprehension. I have found that identifying sequences of information in listening can be quite important, as it can often be a telling factor in how well students can relocate and sort important information in the text.
Note also that teachers can experiment with utilizing listening comprehension of this nature not just for texts students have already read, but also texts they are about to read. While the difficulty level increases considerably in this application, it can be very beneficial in preparing students for reading comprehension lessons.
Using existing reading material also allows students to review and reflect following a listening exercise - as students can look up the reading used for the listening script in their textbooks or by copying and distributing the main script.
Linking to the Activity from a Writing Syllabus
Writing that students have done themselves can be utilized as scripts for listening comprehension of this nature, however the writing may need to be edited first to make it more accurate and cohesive, and this basically means applying the text according to the same guidelines mentioned above for reading. One important difference is that not all students will have familiarity with the text they are listening to (except the writer him/herself of course!), even though they are likely to have familiarity with the topic or overall concept (if one was actually set for the whole class in doing a particular writing task).
One very important way that utilizing students' own texts can be really beneficial is that it allows students to be brought into the overall process of making and checking comprehension for a listening passage. If students write their own texts and also try to apply their own listening comprehension questions, they are getting experience with handling listenining comprehension 'from the inside out'. Teachers will of course need to be involved in this process, helping students to write appropriate comprehension questions and answer options. However, it is very much worth the effort involved - if students themselves are writing texts, making questions about these texts, and then delivering the text to students orally, they are learning and utilizing a whole range of skills that are very beneficial to their overall language development. As in other instances where learners themselves begin to contribute to content and delivery of lessons, this process usually results in greater levels of confidence and motivation. It is also beneficial for students to hear and learn from peers' work, especially if the initial task was the same for all or most of the students involved.
This is fairly straightforward, as with most listening comprehension exercises of this sort the grading tends to be on an overall score that considers correct versus incorrect responses. In the answer sheet template provided with this activity, I have included a score out of 10 which can then be converted to a letter grade (generally I apply the conversion this way: 10=A+, 9=A, 7-8=B, 5-6=C, 3-4=D, 1-2=E, and 0=F, though other teachers will of course have their own preferences or applications).
The only thing I would ask language teachers to consider is 'weighting' question values according to what are new or existing kinds of skills being applied. For example, if you make 7 questions, 5 of which the students have already faced before but 2 of which are completely new skills (for example, inference or prediction), you may like to assign a lower weighting to the new question types and reinforce previous skills by allocating more point value to the questions students should already know how to handle. Some teachers prefer to handle that in opposite fashion, placing more point value (and therefore emphasis) on the new skills being tested. In my opinion, the justification for doing it the latter way will depend a great deal on how much time the teacher has invested in explaining and practicing the new skill before students are scored on it more or less formally.