ESL Listening: How to Teach It | Teaching English Listening

How to Teach ESL Listening


ESL Listening: Love It!

Back in the days when I used to teach in South Korean universities (not so long ago! This is the first semester in 8 years that I won’t be teaching), I loved me a good listening lesson. I would try to include at least a few minutes of listening into every single conversation class. They are good for a few reasons including:

  • Korean students often think they’re “good” at listening when in fact they’re quite weak. Ever get met with the deer in headlights look when you ask a Korean student a very basic question such as where they’re from or what their major is? This is often because they’re quite weak at listening skills and didn’t understand what you said to them.
  • ESL listening is a break from the high-energy speaking stuff most foreign teachers usually do. Introverts and quiet students often appreciate some ESL listening lessons because they don’t have to interact with another person!
  • It’s a break for the teacher too! It’s tiring to always be front and center. Throw the ball back into the students’ courts by doing some listening activities which are by nature, extremely student-centred.

An ESL Listening Lesson Plan Template

If you’re getting started with teaching ESL listening, the first post you’ll want to read is this one:

An ESL Listening Lesson Plan Template

It follows the CELTA style of listening planning, which I found to be a really useful framework to follow. Once you have this ESL listening lesson plan template down, it’s easier to venture out on your own, adapting it to suit your own style.

Too Difficult of Listening Exercises?

A common problem in Korea is that the textbook you’re using is too difficult. Koreans often think they’re better at English than they actually are. Here’s a blog post about how to handle this problem. Difficult listening exercises? Help is here!┬áIt doesn’t mean that you have to skip the listening activities in your textbook completely.

ESL listening

ESL Listening Activities

Once you have the basics of an ESL listening lesson plan down, it’s time to kick it into high-gear with some of these fun ESL listening games and activities.

Here are a few ideas to get you started. Most of them involve both speaking and listening together, which is generally way more interesting than just listening alone.

Using Videos in the ESL Classroom: Check out this post for some thoughts on using videos in the classroom, especially some activities for pre or post watching.

Videos in the ESL classroom get a bit of a bad rap for being the lazy teacher’s salvation, but you can use them for good! Just make sure that you give your students some sort of task to do while they watch. Then, follow-up on that.

Dictogloss: This is a challenging ESL listening activity that your students will enjoy. It’s very easy to make it as easy, or difficult as you want. It also lends itself really well to group-work and collaborative learning.

If I Had a Million Dollars Lesson Plan: Songs are an excellent way to help your students with their listening skills. Here’s one that I really like to use when teaching conditionals. It usually leads to some pretty interesting discussions.

Running Dictation: One of my all-time favourite ESL activities, running dictation is some 4-skills awesome. Try it out and see! It’s perfect for Monday morning 9am classes where there is a sum total of 0 energy in your classroom!

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