For authentic listening material, just Ask!

In a recent discussion with a group of Mexican teachers about the importance of using authentic listening texts in class, I was surprised to hear someone say that finding such material is difficult.

Surprised because it seems to me that never before has it been easier for teachers to expose learners to real language in the classroom. The availability of so many free web-based audio and video streaming, recording and editing tools combined with the popularity of all kinds of different reality TV shows means that we can easily get our hands on messy, idiomatic, ungrammatical real language or samples of different world Englishes.

“Old hat!”, I hear you say
Now, obviously I am by no means the first to write about using reality TV in classroom. Here’s an excellent article from the the Internet TESL Journal, for example. Meanwhile, Gary Denness, author of the excellent Mexile blog, was actually on Big Brother talking about teaching with Big Brother.

What I wish to bring to the attention of teachers here in Mexico and beyond, however, is this:

Jing screen shot of Ask & Record Tool Bar

Jing screen shot of Ask & Record Tool Bar

The Ask and Record tool bar. It’s great! It allows you to record live any audio that is playing from your computer.

Yeah, and..?
You may be wondering what the point is – after all, you could just play the Youtube or Dailymotion video in the classroom, right? Well, what I love about this is that you can record just the segment or snippet of the video that you want to focus on. I mean, sometimes you don’t want students to watch the whole video; perhaps only a few turns of a conversation are really of interest; perhaps students will be distracted by the visual information when you really want to work on their listening skills; perhaps there’s no internet in the classroom; perhaps you only have access to a CD player…Whatever, this is a very cool tool for teachers. You can download it here.

Over egg it, why don’t you?
Unfortunately, you may have to sit through hours of mindnumbing, crap telly in order to find something you can actually use in class. But do not fear, help is at hand – I set up a Posterous page with some snippets of real English so that you can see what I mean. Please take a look here. Feel free to use it and contribute.

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4 Responses to For authentic listening material, just Ask!

  1. ShellTerrell says:

    Mark,
    I think the your idea for teachers is very useful. I have a lesson I do with my adult English language learners in which they bring movie clips from their favorite English DVDs and we discuss them in class. Doing this on a TV with and playing the scenes takes quite a bit of time. Your way would definitely cut the time and the students could record their opinions on the film clips.

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for your comment – having students record comments is a nice idea which I hadn’t thought of. Thanks. I’m still giving the whole thing some thought – Nik Peachy suggested putting some exercises with the texts. I didn’t consider that initially because I thought it would be better for teachers to decide what they want to do with the texts but I am actually coming round to the idea of putting some suggested activities and some guidelines on there too. When I have some time, of course.

  2. Anneline says:

    Hey there Mark,
    Thanks so much! I am looking forward to playing around with the Applian application. (not sure how long the demo lasts.) Have given this website to other teachers here as I know listening activities are so necessary to student development, and i am sure they wil appreciate all the work you have done. It is sometimes a little challenging to find fresh creative ways of presenting the material, but i love the idea of using Chef Gordon! 🙂
    Thanks hey (South African style)
    Anneline

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for the comment Anneline and thanks for passing my blog on to others. I see that the listening page has been getting quite a lot of hits from all over the world so I’d better start putting some work in to it.

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