You know those listening activities that are in all ESL textbooks? Do you just skip over them, or quickly breeze on through on your way to other things? I did that for lots of years too.
However, listening lessons can be quite interesting for students, especially those ones who don’t like talking all the time! Check out this listening lesson plan template for all the tips and tricks you need to kick your ESL lesson plan to the next level.
How and Why to Teach Listening to ESL Students
Listening is an extremely important skill if students want to speak fluently in English. No matter how well you speak, if you don’t understand what your conversation partner said, your answer will be a little awkward at best, or totally random at worst.
In order to help our students, we need to include some practice with listening into our English classes. Here’s some basic advice on how to teach listening to ESL students, including a lesson plan template and some ESL listening activities.
ESL Listening Lesson Plan Template
Here are the steps that you can follow when planning a listening lesson plan.
1. Set the Context
This introduces the theme of your listening topic. For example, if your listening is about shopping, you could ask students whether or not they ever buy things without trying them on and whether or not they’ve had good or bad experiences with that.
Or, if your topic is travel, you could ask students what are 5 things that people do while they’re spending time waiting at an airport. It’s best to have students discuss the question for a couple minutes with their partner and then quickly elicit some answers from the class.
2. Pre-Listening Task
Next, you’ll need to assign students a pre-reading task. Some of my favorites ones are prediction tasks which lead into the next step. For example, in class last week the topic was problems while traveling. I had students think of 5 common travel problems with a partner.
I then elicited some answers and wrote 3 of them on the board. You could also show them a picture and have them predict something based on that. Or, you could introduce some of the vocabulary words from the listening that you think the students won’t know.
3. Listening #1
The students listen for the overall picture the first time. You can have them see if their prediction were true, if you did this in step #2. Or, you could give them some very simple T/F questions. Basically, anything that gives them a reason to listen.
Have students compare answers with a partner and then quickly go over them together with the class, but don’t spend too much time with this.You don’t want to give away too many details because they’ll listen one more time in the next step.
4. Listening #2
Give students some more difficult comprehension questions, they’ll listen again, check answers with a partner and then with the class. You can spend a bit more time discussing the answers if necessary than you would in the previous step.
Or, if you’re using a listening passage to introduce a grammar concept, students could listen for that specific item. For example, subject and object pronouns. And then answer some questions about who each pronoun refers back to. Or, you could have students listen for examples of indefinite pronouns.
5. Pronunciation (optional)
If there are some words that are difficult to pronounce, or your students particularly struggle with this, then you may want to focus a little bit on pronunciation.
Do some drills and practice using the words from the listening passage. Here’s some help with teaching pronunciation: English Pronunciation Games.
Students have to apply the concepts from the listening to their own lives in order to make it more memorable. The best kind of things you could do are something that involves students giving their opinions, such as asking them if they agree or disagree with XYZ.
Or, you could have students do a survey and discuss the answers. Another idea is to have them pretend to be one of the people in the listening while the other one is a news reporter and they interview each other. Get creative and make listening fun and interesting!
7. Follow Up
After finishing this, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can do. You might consider switching over to focus on another skills such as speaking or writing. Or, you could have students do a presentation related to the listening passage. Maybe you can play a game of some kind with them. Get creative in terms of how you tie what you do next to what the students have listened to.
More ESL Listening Ideas
The sky really is the limit and the whole world is open to you, if you have high-level students. I’ve used TV shows, movies, and even Podcasts (Serial is great) in my classes before with excellent results.
Students love using authentic material because they’re relevant, interesting and gives them confidence that they can go out into the real-world and understand what people are saying.
Remember that the best things to choose for ESL listening activities are things that are just slightly higher than their level. If you can assist them to understand, that’s how students make gains in their listening skills.
Where Can I find ESL Listening Passages?
If you want to know where you can find ESL listening exercises, here are a few of my go-to sources.
The Textbook You’re Using
All ESL textbooks these days have listening exercises in them. I know, some teachers are lazy about getting audio up and running in their classroom, but it can be useful to have this option available.
Textbooks are often the best source for listening passages because they’ll be related to the grammar and vocabulary that the students are leaning. Plus, in theory, they should be at the perfect level.
Breaking News English
Apart from the textbook, this is my go-to source for listening work. It’s got a huge variety of current events, and best of all, the passages are graded and divided into various levels, compete with exercises. This makes it super easy to use them. Plus, the topics lend themselves well to great discussions.
Check it out here: Breaking News English.
Business English Pod
If you teach Business English, then this site is pure gold. There is a paid version, but I’ve found the free version has enough of what I need to make it work.
Their listening passages are excellent and are a nice starting point for further work. Check it out here: Business English Pod.
Of course, YouTube is a gold mine for all things listening. They have millions of videos. But, how to find the right one for your students? I usually just search for the topic + ESL. For example, “jobs + ESL,” or, “sports + ESL” and have found what I was looking for in a minute or two.
For more advanced level students, consider using authentic material from YouTube. By that, I mean materials that aren’t specifically designed for ESL students.
Here’s an example of a video specifically for ESL students about dream jobs. It’s a nice one because it uses “real English:”
Tips for Teaching ESL Listening
Here are a few tips and tricks for teaching an English listening lesson:
- Get familiar with the technology before class. Nothing is worse than a teacher trying to figure out how to play the audio during class time. Come a few minutes early to get things set up.
- 2x is perfect! If the students understand everything on the first run-through, it’s probably too easy. If they struggle to understand the main ideas even on the second time through, it’s too difficult.
- You can plan a whole class around a listening passage. It’s easy to do with this template, so mix things up a bit and give students a break from speaking and conversation, which is what most native English speakers do for the majority of classes.
- The textbook is usually a gold mine in terms of listening passages. Make use of them because they’ll often be at the perfect level of your students.
- Consider listening activities for homework. Perhaps something like watching a certain YouTube video and writing (or speaking) a quick response to it.
Check out this Book on Amazon for ESL Listening Activity Ideas
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 100 Pages - 05/30/2015 (Publication Date)
I hope you’ve picked up a few tips on how to teach listening to ESL students. If you’d like some ideas for speaking and listening games and activities for your classroom, check out this book on Amazon: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults.
Speaking and Listening Activities
Of course, speaking activities also require listening, so all of these games and activities are heavy on that as well. So, you should be able to find an engaging, interesting listening activity to round our your ESL lesson in under a minute. Yes, it really is that easy.
Step by Step Instructions, and More
Then, each activity has a detailed description, along with step by step instructions that start with what you need to do before the lesson to follow-up suggestions for things to do with your students. Plus, there are teaching tips to help your game or activity go smoothly and you’ll be able to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.
Available in a Variety of Formats
The book is available in digital, print or audio formats. You can keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office for easy lesson planning. Or, take the digital version to your favourite coffee shop for a serious lesson planning session. Finally, you could listen to the book when commuting for some inspiration for your next class.
Where Can I Get It?
It really is that easy to have better ESL speaking and listening lessons. Check out the book for yourself over on Amazon:
Teaching Listening Skills to English Learners
You can pick up a few more tips for teaching listening here:
Have your Say about Planning an ESL Listening Lesson
What steps do you follow when planning a listening lesson? Did you know how to plan a listening lesson plan already? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2020-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API