“There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for, and questions are the breath of life for a conversation.” ~ James Nathan Miller
This quote certainly rang true in the #KELTchat that took place this past Sunday night, as 24 contributors, along with the moderator Michael Griffin, created a rich conversation with questions about ELL Listening skills wafting throughout the hour-long session. The initial questions concerned the value of listening, or “why should we include listening in ELT”? And with one short breath of an answer, the question quickly turned to “how”.
As ELTs, the top priority on our minds was activities, with most everyone agreeing that textbook activities were lacking…in creativity, authenticity, and communicative qualities, and therefore, sometimes hurried through or skipped altogether. The suggestion was made to start with teaching listening strategies (before asking students to jump into varied activities), and was elaborated on to include 6 common strategies that could be employed in any listening episode (in or out of the classroom) – asking, guessing, predicting, focusing, reviewing and responding.
Additionally, a mention of taking away visual stimuli to allow for ‘pure’ listening created a heated debate as to the need or frequency of ‘pure’ listening to occur in real life. It was conceded that visuals could be used as contextual clues to aid learners, but also could be seen as ‘distractions’.
After those deep breaths, the life of the conversation came full circle to begin again, the inquiry of what kinds of activities might be helpful to enhance listening lessons and outcomes for both students and teachers. The air was filled with options from pre-listening silence, to live textbook adaptation, to accented English, to podcasts, to self-recordings, to music, to sit-coms (a complete reference list of all cited materials and sources follows this summary).
Now, armed with activities galore, and an agreement that listening lessons should have a purpose and a structure of pre-, while-, and post-listening tasks, the lively ‘chatters’ exhaled laudations and gratitude to each other and the moderator. With everyone breathing easy, we took suggestions of topics that would breathe new life into the next #KELT chat. So, stay tuned or ‘listen closely’ for the details…coming soon.
“Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.” — Carl Roger
Summary by Kristina Eisenhower (@keisenhow)