1st Step - Toss the Worksheet
Really. Well, at least give it a look over, but you are probably going to toss it anyway, even in level 1. You may still find something redeemable about it, but you probably can't use it in its entirety, so don't get your hopes up. Remember, we are looking for audio activities that promote proficiency, not recognition.
2nd Step - Find the Script
Read the audio script and ask yourself these questions:
- What information is being shared here?
- What and how much would students need to understand about this if they were in the real world?
- How can I organize their thoughts to focus on the essential information I need them to listen for?
3rd Step - Create a Graphic Organizer
A graphic organizer is a great way to help students focus their listening and it will allow them to manage more information at one time than just a word or phrase. By default your students will know that they have to understand the message and be able to prove that they do. No one graphic organizer will work for this, you will have to design something for each audio activity you have them listen to, but you will get more bang for your buck that way. Another really powerful aspect of using a graphic organizer for listening is that the audio activity now becomes a very insightful formative assessment. If you collect them after the activity, you can scan them to see as a whole what your students are interpreting easily and what they are still struggling to understand.
Points to Ponder
So, I have some questions for you to ask yourself as you begin to redesign your textbook's audio activities:
- Does listening have to come AFTER instruction? Or, can it be used as comprehensible input PRIOR TO instruction?
- How important is it that the students understand the order or sequence of events in an audio activity? Can we design a new focus for audio activities so students have to interpret more than that?
- Do the pictures help or do they do all the thinking for the student? Are the pictures necessary at all?
- When looking at the script of the audio, what is the linguistic focus of the activity? THAT should be what you ask the students to interpret.
- Why do we only allow students the opportunity to listen to the audio twice? During practice, why can't they hear it as many times as they want?
- What could we ask students to do AFTER finishing the activity? Could we extend it beyond the listening and connect it to another communication mode? Could they use the TL to discuss, retell or ask questions about what they heard? Could they write something for us?
My Parting Challenge... and an apology!
So now, go dust off those ancillaries and CDs that you put on the shelf and see what you can come up with. Reconsider when and how you use those audio activities and BE CREATIVE! I think you will find some value in those expensive materials after all.
Oh and, if you are a textbook rep or writer, I am so sorry if I have offended you during this blog post, but I stand by my statements. You really need to work on materials that develop language proficiency. If you don't, you will become extinct.
Happy Coaching, friends!
P.S. I would post an example in this blog post, but I would be breaking copyright laws. This time you will have to use your imagination!