How to prepare lesson plans for ESL listening activities

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As a trainee or novice ESL teacher, you will have to be able to prepare lesson plans for listening activities.

Listening skills are normally assessed by a combination of multiple-choice and short answer questions; being an integral part of almost all ESL certificates, it is important that your lesson plans for listening activities are of a very high standard. One way in which this can be achieved is by using a ‘before, during, and after’ listening activities methodology. In the ‘before listening phase, trainee and novice ESL teachers should introduce the listening material with a view to motivating the students: listening activities are by nature artificial; however, by using videos based on the same themes as the listening activities – your ESL students will be more motivated to engage in the listening activities, and the experience will be much more ‘realistic’.

It will also give you the opportunity to highlight important words and expressions which may be needed for the ‘during phase’. Motivation can also be achieved by contextualizing listening activities: your lesson plan should include listening scenarios that are similar to the student’s own life experiences, e.g. ‘going shopping’, ‘visiting relatives’ and ‘watching sports activities’.

This is especially important for young students; however, for older ESL students (CEFR level B2 and above) this may not be possible; indeed, it may not even be necessary. In the ‘during phase’, the students actually do the listening activity. Your lesson plan should allow time for the listening activity to be heard two or three times, and time should also be allowed for the ESL teacher to explain the listening activity and answer any queries: before you commence the listening activity, go through all the questions and make sure the students understand them and that there are no unknown words or expressions.  For those who would object to this practice, it should be remembered that it is the students’ listening skills that are being assessed – not their vocabulary or reading comprehension.

The ESL teacher should make the effort to listen to the listening activity before it is done in class: noting any difficulties. In the ‘after phase: the lesson plan should concentrate on correction, explanation, and analysis of the student’s responses to the listening activities. You should incorporate the transcripts in your lesson plan and refer to them in support of the correct answers.

You should also make a note of the times on the transcript when the responses to the set questions are heard on the CD/DVD you are listening to: this will save you a lot of time when searching for the required responses, and playback will provide your students with important feedback which they can use to analyze their responses.

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