Teaching Listening: The Lesson Plan

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Teaching Listening

Today I am in San Antonio and the ACTFL conference and getting ready to present on the work I have been doing with Radio Ambulante with my students.   One of the things I wanted to share was the lesson plan format my private reading students and I developed as a framework for using these materials.

This isn’t a one sized fits all proposition, of course (nothing really ever is in education, and if someone tells you that it is, well you should walk sloooooowly away….).  But we tried to build into this plan was the idea that a teacher should feel free to listen to her classroom and “snorkel” or “scuba dive” though the material as the students’ interests and abilities required.

I welcome your suggestions and comments to this template.  If you end up using it for your work with Radio Ambulante, please share what happened, what worked, what did not.

One of the things I want to do is create a Community of Practitioners who want to share ideas on how to use these materials in the classroom.  Together, as teachers working together and sharing our materials and ideas,  we are more.  Let me know if you want to join us!



  • to use RA in the second language classroom to develop listening skills alongside conversation skills
  • to raise awareness of stories and histories that they might otherwise not be hearing through conventional media sources
  • to create a lesson plan that is fluid and flexible and responds to students’ needs and interests (vs exclusively privileging the interests of the teacher). Create opportunities to scuba dive the content (that is, an opportunity to stop and dig deeper) vs just snorkeling through in order to complete the task by a certain date.
  • for each student to find a balance between the use of the aural text and the written text while growing their ability to listen to increasingly longer and more complex stories.
  • to create further connections between listening and speaking and writing and reading


Introduction, pre-listening activities:  (1 class period + homework)

  • Set the context and create motivation for the students using images, audio, music, big questions, etc
  • Brainstorming activities to help students pull together vocabulary and other knowledge they have as a way to anticipate content.

Strategy building: what activities can be done in class to intentionally develop listening skills?

Listening activities: (1-2 class periods + homework)

Think about different pathways that students can pursue as a way to develop listening strategies and proficiency.   Find a balance for this episode between activities that promote extensive listening (that is, listening to large chunks and asking general questions about context, attitude, tone etc) and intensive listening (shorter segments with questions that require a greater focus on detail).

  • What parts of the listening should be done in class?  What parts should be assigned outside of class?
  • What questions/tasks will be asked of the students and how will that change if it is in class vs outside of class?
  • What can students do together as a small group/pairs vs on their own?

Strategy building: How do we encourage global listening comprehension vs the panic of not understanding every single word?

Post-listening:  (1-2 class periods + homework)

Making connections to the world and building conversational skills:

  • What additional resources are available that would give us an additional perspective on this story?
  • What larger questions can we talk about after having listened to this story?

Strategy building: Creating ways for students to circle back and check in about their listening skills: what worked? what didn’t? how do you know? how do you need to adapt your listening for the next episode?

Extension activities:

Create a small follow up project that involves writing and speaking as a way to synthesize what was learned. Assignments will vary based upon the topic of the story.  Examples:

  • Write or record a Public Service Announcement in Spanish
  • Create a radio show with music, readings, interviews that further develops questions/ideas raised in the RA crónica
  • Create a debate in which students take sides on a certain issue and develop those points of view more fully


Featured image: by “Listen”  by Ky Olson CC by-NC-SA 2.0

Series Navigation<< Teaching Listening: Listening StrategiesTeaching Listening: Shifting the Practice >>

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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