Listen to Me!

Man Listening to gossip
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One of the five classes in my EAP course is a 50-minute a day listening class. It’s always been the most difficult for me to teach, partly because it’s directly after lunch, when students are  not the most awake!

Over the years I’ve tried various teaching resources, searching for the most effective texts and material to help students. These are the  best ones I’ve come across for teaching listening  skills in EAP:

English for Academic Study: Listening

I love Garnet Education’s EAS series, and use the Vocabulary and Reading & Writing books as a major part of my curriculum. When my course first began, our listening curriculum was based entirely on the EAS: Listening book.
The book is nicely divided  into different listening skills, with chapter titles like “Identifying Key Ideas in Lectures” and “Note Taking.”
My only problem with the book is that some of the lecture topics are a little too advanced. My students were having trouble identifying the main ideas in a 30-second lecture snippet because they were getting hung up on the specific marketing terminology being used by the professor.
After a while, I switched to…

Contemporary Topics 3

This is the textbook I currently use for about half the listening classes each month. The set includes a textbook and DVD or CD with 5 to 7-minute lectures on topics like “Animal Communication” or “Government Surveillance.” The vocabulary used is quite simple, so students don’t need any background knowledge to practice note taking or to get an idea of what university lectures are like.
The only drawback of this series is that the lectures are only a few minutes long. It doesn’t really show students the reality of a one or two-hour university lecture.
As an alternative…

iTunesU / EdX

iTunesU and EdX offer FREE(!) university courses online. Each course is different, but there are hundreds to choose from, covering all topics.
For classroom use, teachers can download course notes and syllabi in advance, and students can watch actual hour-long lectures from Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford!
These lectures are great, but don’t capture the feeling of actually being in a university class. The last, most authentic (but hardest to arrange) option is…

The Real Deal!

A colleague of mine reached out to a former professor at a local university and received permission to have her class of EAP students audit an actual first-year university course.
For a few classes last year, we were able to have our students attend the class and truly get the full-sensory university experience!

Improving students’ listening and note-taking is an important part of EAP, and I’ve found these resources to be quite useful and effective in my class.

Do you have a favourite listening resource or activity that has worked well in your classes?

Hi! I’m Andrew Shedden. Like most people, I fell into ESL by accident. I was preparing to apply for my Master’s in history and decided I wanted to teach in Japan beforehand as a vacation. I got a CELTA degree so I would know what this teaching thing is all about, but one thing led to another and although I never actually made it to Japan as a teacher (or applied for a Master’s program), I’ve been teaching ESL ever since! I've been teaching EAP for over 10 years now... I love the focus on academic writing and English, since I can vicariously go back to university through my students. (I do miss it!) My other professional love is computers. I’ve been obsessed with them since I was 3, and I’m always trying to learn more about how to incorporate IT into my program and classes.


2 thoughts on “Listen to Me!”

  1. Lebauer’s ‘Learn to Listen, Listen to Learn’ has some good lectures in it. The teacher’s manual has the scripts also, so you can deliver the lecture to the students yourself, adjusting the speed or vocabulary if necessary.

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