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Tips for making the listening and reading activities more effective

Reading and listening skills are often neglected by both students and teachers. Almost every lesson starts with reading or listening and for this reason I consider these skills very important. Here are some tips for making the listening and reading activities more effective.

Teacher should help the students to understand the context (who’s speaking, who to, why, where the text is from, who’s the intended reader etc)

An introductory stage using visual elements or a discussion seems to be a good idea. Giving students context questions while they are listening is also a good idea. Such questions might be: “How many people are talking?”, “Do they know each other?”, “Where are they?” etc.

The related language has to be activated before reading/listening activity

A pair (or small group) activity or discussion can do that. Such an activity before the reading/listening can generate relevant ideas as well.

Students need a reason to read/listen otherwise most of them will do it mechanically (reading and thinking of something else)

I usually prepare a task for my students to answer while reading/listening. In this way the students are guided to a correct approach of the text and ensure that they will understand it. Depending on the text’s complexity, the teacher can set a series of tasks (for example: start with some gist questions for first reading/listening and continue with some more detailed questions for a second listening/reading).

Reading/listening questions should check student understanding

That’s because simply taking the answer from the text without understanding what they have read or heard doesn’t really help.

The questions should follow the same order that their answers appear in the text

That’s because our goal is not to confuse the students. Making the student to read/listen the whole text to find the answer is time consumption and students might give up.

According to the text, different types of questions can be set

You can set questions that start with a question word (what, who, why, when, where), yes/no questions, true/false questions or multiple choice. Of course, the type of question you choose depends on the text itself and the result you want to achieve.

The teacher has three options for dealing with unknown language

Maintain the peace and interest level by encouraging students to compare answers in pairs or groups

This will also help students to focus on a specific part of the text.

Follow any receptive skills lesson with a related post-listening/post-reading task

Students will have opportunity to use the language and this will heighten their sense of achievement which is important from all points of view.

All the students should be involved in the feedback of a task before establishing the correct answers

Reading aloud is not productive

Some may say that this statement is not true and probably they are right because reading speed is reduced since we speak slower than we read. If we consider connecting speech then we may say that reading aloud interfere with pronunciation. Some people might say that it can help to deal with pronunciation on a particular word (and in some situations it is possible) but there are more effective techniques that can be use to deal with pronunciation.

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