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Developing listening for specific information at C1
by Esther Ratcliff
- 1

Preliminary Information

Main aims;

1. To give listening for specific information practice of an exam activity (sentence completion) on the topic of time capsules.
2. To raise awareness of weak forms and elision in connected speech.

Subsidiary aims;
1. To raise awareness of the need to use both top-down and bottom-up techniques in listening tasks, and the difference between listening tasks in the CAE.

Advanced. These students have studied for a number of years at advanced level. Most the students will take the Cambridge Advanced Exam in June

Timetable fit
This is the last class based on the topic of 'history'. Over the last few weeks students have revised past tenses, learnt new ways to express the past, talked about historical books and films, learnt vocabulary for talking about changes that have happened to them. They have also completed a number of tasks related from the Reading and Use of English and listening CAE paper. The listening in this lesson is a sentence completion task about time capsules. They have already done one sentence completion task since starting six weeks ago.

Monday 3rd Nov
Reading: Multiple matching task on historical books
Grammar: nouns used in formal writing

Wednesday 5th Nov
Writing: stds watch a clip of historical movie trailers and prepare to write a review of a historical film
Vocabulary: describing films

Wednesday 12th Nov
Listening: Multiple matching task on changes in life
Phonology: How to distinguish emotions in spoken English

Monday 17th Nov
Vocabulary: Changes collocations
Speaking: Talking about changes in life
Grammar: Multiple choice from Reading and Use of English paper and changing countries.

Wednesday19th Nov (observed lesson)
Listening: Sentence completion on time capsules
Phonology: Looking at weak forms in connected speech

Monday 24th Nov
Grammar: Talking about the past and Reading and use of English practice
Vocabulary: revising changes

Assumed knowledge
I think the students will be able to do the pre-listening task of predicting the type of information necessary relatively well. They should also be able to remember what is required for this type of task. However there are three students who haven’t done this type of listening before, and might find the task difficult to grasp. I think students will be aware that some words are weak in connected speech, but perhaps not aware of when exactly they are weak.

Anticipated problems and solutions
I don't think the listening topic will be difficult for the students. The group is very open and willing to discuss most topics and usually find them interesting. I think Juanjo and MºJosé will have particular difficulty. The pairing for this lesson will be as follows: MºAngeles & Juanjo, Rafa & MºJosé, Jesús & Gema, Sara & Francisco. If this is not possible because of the order that students arrive in, I will try to make sure that weaker students are sat next to a stronger student so they can work together.

Problem: Difficulty with some questions will be due to unclear words in the passage. For example I think 'props' might be a difficult word because they are unlikely to have come across this word in relation to this topic before.
Solution: I will encourage students to guess the word they think they hear based on their knowledge of the topic, and what type of word is needed for the space.

Problem: I think that some students might struggle with following the pace of the listening.
Solution: I will encourage them to try not to get stuck with certain words, and try to move through the activity as the passage moves along.

Problem: With the phonology analysis, it will probably be the first time students have come across elision, and therefore they might not be aware of rules which govern the elision of sounds. There is a possibility that the students might feel overwhelmed with the work on phonology.
Solution: It is important to emphasise that even though there are many instances of elision and weak forms, it is necessary to focus on a few at a time in order to make good progress.

Problem: There is a problem with the technology.
Solution: I will give students copies of the powerpoint presentation to share in pairs.

Class Profile
There are eight students aged between 17 and 45 in this class. I would say there is a good balance of backgrounds, experiences and learner styles, and also an equal balance of weak and strong students. (Weak: Juanjo, MºJosé, Francisco; Strong: Sara, Rafa, Jesús, Gema and MºAngeles) Francisco and MºAngeles only joined the class three weeks ago, but they seem to have settled well into the class.

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