Incorporating Listening Activities Into Literacy Classes

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Literacy teachers emphasize reading and writing because those are the only two skills assessed at the literacy level. However, when does the attention given to those two skills become excessive? And, by devoting the bulk of class time to those two skills, do we do so at the expense of a holistic approach to teaching?

A holistic approach to our literacy classes incorporates listening into our lessons. By doing so, we reach audio learners, which helps them, because our classes are geared to verbal learners. Also, by doing some listening activities, we broaden students’ exposure to the language, and students strengthen the auditory cortex of their temporal lobes. Listening helps grow our students’ brains! When students are exposed to language and activities outside the class routines, it’s beneficial to their development.

With that in mind, here are a few ways I use listening in my literacy classes. I hope you find them useful.

1. Roshi

Roshi is a website for ESL teachers that generates lesson plans and other materials using AI. The program generates a listening exercise with each lesson plan, but with one caveat. Roshi starts at CLB 1, so you’ll need to scaffold Roshi’s listening activities.

In the lesson I used, a man and a woman talked about when they were going to meet for coffee coinciding with our unit on time and date. The computer generated dialogue the way you and I talk, not ESL talk. I wanted the students to listen for and hear the words we’d been studying. When they heard a vocabulary word, the students told me to stop, and then they’d write the word down in their notebooks. After that, they’d go to the board and write it.

It took several attempts and I had to slow down the voices to a comically slow speed, which had us laughing, but the students were keen on this activity.

2. Avenue

Same idea as with Roshi. Again, I used some activities from a CLB 1 unit that I had to modify to suit a literacy class. In this activity, the students listened to sentences for the vocabulary they’d been learning. The students told me to stop when they recognized the word used, then they wrote it down in their notebooks, and wrote it on the board.

3. Learning Chocolate and Wordwall

Learning Chocolate has lots of lower level activities and there’s a listening component to a lot of them, such as students hear a word and have to write it in the space provided. They can check their answers, see how many they got right and wrong, and see where they made mistakes.

With Wordwall, when you’re making activities, you can add a listening component where vocabulary is spoken by a computer generated voice.  Students can hear the words, associate them with pictures, and write the words. As with Learning Chocolate, Wordwall also lets students check their answers and see where they made mistakes.

Roshi, Avenue, Learning Chocolate, and Wordwall are some of the programs I use to exercise my students’ listening skills. There are other activities that don’t use computers, such as, Find Someone Who, and basic greetings between you and the students, and the students with each other.

Give some of my tips a try. While we don’t assess listening at the literacy level, it’s still an important skill our students need to help develop their language and their ability to use it in their daily lives. Most importantly, our students benefit from a holistic approach rather than when we focus solely on the two skills, reading and writing, being assessed at this level.

Derek teaches at St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centre in Kitchener, Ontario. He taught at colleges and universities in the Sultanate of Oman for eighteen years. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Trent University, and a TESL Certificate from Conestoga College. Derek is also a playwright, fiction writer, an avid walker, jogger, and a Kitchener Rangers fan.


3 thoughts on “Incorporating Listening Activities Into Literacy Classes”

  1. Thanks Derek,
    I totally agree with you.Listening and Speaking are also very important for the Literacy Level.
    I have been teaching Literacy for about 16 years.
    The resources that you mentioned are excellent.I have been using them for sometime now.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.I am really thankful.

    1. Thanks Fauzia.

      It’s encouraging when a literacy teacher with your experience is on the same page as me. I’m confident, then, that I am on the right track with my students by giving them listening activities, as well as speaking, which I didn’t talk about in my post.

      I’m glad that you got some value from my post!

  2. Thanks Derek,
    It was very nice to see that we share the opinions. I also teach at St. Louis Adult Learning Centers in the afternoon. But here i teach CLB1/2.

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