Teaching Listening: a series

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Teaching Listening

Over the past few months I have been working on developing a series of lesson plans for my Spanish Conversation class that explore using  Radio Ambulante in a 5th semester language class.

As I began to think about ways to use this  incredible repository of oral storytelling in my class, it occurred to me that one thing I needed to learn more about before I started writing was how language teachers actively teach listening.

It has always struck me how imperative it is to know how to listen in the L2 classroom, and yet how little active classroom time we actually devote to its development. To put it another way: we all know it as one of the 4 proficiencies that our students need to develop when learning a language, but how often, if at all,  do we actively and intentionally TEACH it?  Do we just assume that our students will “get it” or “develop it” over time on their own?

It dawned on me recently that I teach a conversation class and  you can’t have a real conversation without listening.  Conversation without listening is just speaking, and while that is an important skill, it is not what I aim to teach. Listening has to be developed alongside speaking in order to develop conversational proficiency in a language.

What can I do as a teacher to develop my students listening abilities in my classroom, both to improve their conversational abilities but also to be able to explore and appreciate the extraordinary storytelling of Radio Ambulante?

All of this to say that for the next few posts I am going to share some of the things that I learned this summer about teaching listening in the L2 classroom.  Some of these ideas come from within the L2 teaching world, but many do not.  In fact, when I started to talk to colleagues in other disciplines about my interest in how we intentionally teach listening, I was amazed at the support and interest and ideas those conversations created.

Your comments, as always, will be most welcome.


Featured Image: “Listening” by Barbara Ganley  CC by-NC-SA 2.0



Series Navigation<< Listening JournalsTeaching Listening: Theory and 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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