Listening lesson Three
The activity we will see here is based on a listening text included in the Aswaat Arabiyya Arabic listening web site at the Advanced level. The text is about six minutes long and is taken from an interview on Syrian TV with Baba Shnuuda, Pope of the Christian Copts in Egypt. A full translation of the text is included here for your review.
Arabic listening text (English translation)
The students in class had not seen the text before or done any preparation for listening.
Here you see the teaching goals in this pre-listening phase:
1. To activate the students’ schema and vocabulary related to the topic.
2. To form some preliminary assumptions about the content of the text.
3. To pose some questions that could provide them with a reason for listening. For example, I asked “do you think the Pope comes to the US often?” and the students said that they didn’t know, so I said “Ok, we will see”.
Classroom example of a pre-listening activity.
Notice here how the teacher uses the chalkboard to write basic vocabulary and ideas given by the students. Use of the board provides visual reinforcement for ideas and vocabulary items presented by the students during all phases of listening.
Notice also how the teacher asked a student to correct her pronunciation of the word aqbaaT (“Copts”) in Arabic. After the student finished her sentence, the teacher pointed to his throat indicating the need for the student to pronounce the “q” in the word aqbaaT correctly. The student repeated the word twice and was able to pronounce it correctly on her third try. Attention to pronunciation should be constant in class activities and can usually be done through self correction.
Notice also the phrases the teacher uses to provide positive reinforcement to students. Such reinforcement is important to build self confidence in all class activities but especially when doing listening activities.
After First Listen
The following video shows what the teacher instructed the students to do after they have finished listening to the text the first time.
What observations can you make? Why do you think the teacher asked the students to work in pairs?
Classroom activity after the first listen.
The following video shows the students after they are done working in pairs after the first listen. Watch the video and notice the kind of questions the teacher is asking. What is his goal here?
Group discussion of video content after the first listen.
Based on the two video segments we’ve seen above, here are some suggestions for you to consider:
• Before you ask the students to report to you what they’ve understood and before you ask any comprehension questions, allow them to work in small groups to discuss what they’ve gotten out of the text after the first engagement with the text.
• Ask them to report to you what they’ve understood. Instead of asking questions on specific pieces of information in the text, focus on global comprehension first and ask them to share with the class any pieces of information they’ve been able to get after the first listen.
• Save your questions for the second listen.
• Utilize the board to write the pieces of information “captured” by the students after the first listen. This will help create focal points for the second listen. If a piece of information presented by a student is incomplete or incorrect, write it down with a question mark and ask the class to focus on it during the second listen.
• Remember to use positive reinforcement and encouragement and keep in mind that our aim at this phase is to get an overall view of the “forest” not individual trees.
After Second Listen
Watch the following video in which the students discuss the text after the second listen.
Group discussion of video content after second listen.
This video clip shows the importance of doing multiple listens during a listening activity. It demonstrates to us how students work to verify and modify their initial assumptions and progress from global comprehension to a more detailed comprehension of certain segments within the text.
Of particular interest to us in this clip is to observe how students refine and expand their comprehension after the second listen. Let’s consider the following:
• After the first listen (not shown in the video clips), a student said that she thought the Pope wanted the young Copts in the U.S. to assert their American identity. Despite that this piece of information was not correct, the teacher wrote it on the board with a question mark for the students to consider during their second listen. At the beginning of the present video clip, we another student corrects this information by saying, “…The Pope said that the Americans forget their origins in the East.” Then, notice how the student who had originally given the incorrect information added: “In his view, it is unfortunate that they forget their origin.” The student now is not only able to get the idea right but also to get the exact wording used by the Pope.
• Also after the first listen, a student said that she heard the word taSayyub or “lack of restraints,” a word the students had never seen or heard before. The word did occur in the text, but the student missed one of the sounds in the word. Instead of correcting the student, the teacher told her that getting the word showed great concentration on her part. He wrote the word as pronounced by the student and placed a question mark after it.
• After the second listen—as seen in the clip—the teacher asked the student whether she wanted to verify her answer, and she produced the word correctly. The class didn’t know what the word meant, so he left it up there with a question mark for subsequent listens.
• After the second listen, one of the students said, “[The Pope] is encouraging people, the new generations born in America, to return to their countries.” Note here that the student was not only able to get this new chunk of meaning, but was able also to guess the word generations which was a new word.
• In pre-listening, the teacher asked the students whether the Pope visited the U.S. often and the students did not know. At the end of this video segment we see a student telling the teacher, “he said at the end that he travels a lot, perhaps in order to help the followers.”
So what we see here is how comprehension expands after the second listen. Notice, after the students finished their second listen, the teacher allowed them time to add to, modify, or verify the information they presented after the first listen. Then students worked in pairs to discuss the questions on a worksheet. The goal of these questions was to encourage the students to “dig deeper” in the text in preparation for a possible third listen in class or at home.
When doing listening activities we need to remember to allow the students to do multiple listens. We need also to have confidence in the students’ ability to collectively “create meaning” using the various pieces of information contributed by each one of them.
f you run out of class time after the second listen comprehension activities, consider assigning the intensive listening portion as homework. For example, in the previous video segment, students were assigned the homework task of transcribing word for word short segments of the text and pay close attention to the words and how they were linked together. While in class we focus on what was said, the intensive listening activity at home aims to focus their attention on how it was said. The goal is to engage them in bottom up listening work.
This particular intensive listening assignment involved listening to three short segments (ranging in length between 45 and 60 seconds) in the text and filling in the blanks on a worksheet. It contained mostly blanks with only a few words to serve as guides to the students as they were filling in the missing words. The text segments in this activity included familiar words but also words that they could guess either from the context or by looking at the root or some grammatical clues within the sentence.
While this particular activity was done at home, intensive listening activities can also be done in the computer lab. The advantage of doing intensive listening activities at home or in the lab is that it allows each student to work at an individual pace and go back and forth as needed to complete the task.
Intensive listening activities involve time and require patience; some students may get frustrated if they don’t understand the words. We need to provide encouragement and support and explain to them the importance of intensive listening in building their overall listening skills.
Think of other intensive listening activities that could have followed the video segment on the previous page.
As was pointed out in Lesson 2, post-listening represents a follow-up to the listening activity, and aims to utilize the knowledge gained from listening for the development of other skills. For listening activity on the previous pages, the following task as a post-listening activity:
We need your help in writing a short introduction in Arabic (300 words) for this interview with Pope Shnuuda. Your introduction will be posted on the web site and should aim to help familiarize the listeners with the Copts in Egypt and Pope Shnuuda and provide a broader context for this TV interview. You will need to research the topic, decide how you want to approach the topic and organize it, and stay within the set word limit.
In this assignment, what skills are students being asked to practice? Think of other skills that could be covered in a post-listening activity.
[Module Instructor Mahmoud Al-Batal]. 2010. [Listening]. In Foreign Language Teaching Methods. Carl Blyth, Editor. Texas Language Technology Center, University of Texas at Austin. http://coerll.utexas.edu
The material is provided free of charge for those that wish to study it.
How ever a no obligation exam is available at the end of this module.