Ten While-Listening Activities
This time, I’m going to describe ten activities that can be used while students are listening to a text. It’s important to set a task for the while-listening stage, so that students are actively involved and have something to focus on as they listen. In some cases, students will need to listen more than once to complete the activity.
I suggest using 3 or 4 of the activities below. You may wish to use a traditional sequence of listening for main ideas, listening for details, and making inferences. Alternatively, you might want to mix it up with some of the other activities. I included a few game-like activities near the end of the article.
Assuming that the teacher has already done some pre-listening work, students are now ready for a while-listening activity.
Listen for main ideas
Give your students this question:
Which of these topics do the three students talk about? Circle the topics you hear:
The number of female leaders in the world
Women’s right to vote
(Answers: the number of female leaders in the world, leadership qualities)
Listen for details
Ask students to read over the following questions. Let them listen to the audio track two or three times to get the answers.
- What exam is Lucia studying for?
- What percent of world leaders are women?
- What sport does Lucia play?
- Are Lucia and Jana leaders of clubs on campus?
(Answers: 1. political science 2. less than 10 percent 3. soccer 4. yes)
Ask students to read over these questions. Let them listen to the audio track to determine the answers.
- Are the three students strangers or friends?
- How does Lucia feel about her exam?
- Do the three students agree on the qualities for leaders?
(Answers: 1. friends 2. frustrated 3. yes)
Option: You might want to ask students to explain how they got their answers.
Correct the errors
Give students the following transcript. Tell them there are five errors. Ask them to correct them as they listen.
Lucía: Studying for this political science exam is driving me crazy!
Jana: Relax. Ajay and I were planning to take a study break, and we can help you study.
Ajay: Yeah, of course. What do you need to know for the exam?
Lucía: Well, on the moment, I’m learning that women leaders of countries are rare.
Ajay: I mean, I knew there were fewer female leaders of men, but how rare?
Lucía: Of all the elected heads of state in the world, less than 10 percent are women.
Jana: Less than 10 percent? It’s a terribly low percentage.
Ajay: I don’t understand how more women aren’t elected. Women have excellent leadership qualities.
Jana: Yeah, we do! For example, I can definitely multitask. And when I’m working on an engineering project, I must to collaborate. Those are both qualities that leaders should have.
(Answers: 1. so, not and 2. at, not on 3. that’s not it’s 4. why, not how 5. have, not must)
Give students the following transcript. Ask them to fill in the blanks as they listen.
Ajay: I don’t _______________ why more women aren’t elected. Women have _____________ leadership qualities.
Jana: Yeah, we do! For example, I can ____________ multitask. And when I’m working on an engineering project, I _______ ___ collaborate. Those are both qualities that leaders should have.
Lucía: Absolutely. And you’ve seen me on the soccer _____, so you know I’m strategic and decisive.
Jana: Also excellent qualities for leaders. And women also have grit. So many women have fought for what they __________ in, even in the face of opposition.
Ajay: You didn’t have to __________ me. I think both of you would make __________ leaders. Wait, aren’t both of you leaders of clubs on campus?
(Answers: understand, excellent, definitely, have to, field, believe, convince, fantastic)
Ask students to look at the following list of words and phrases. Play the audio track and ask them to write the words that have the same meaning.
do more than one thing at the same time
(Answers: at the moment, rare, multitask, qualities, convince)
Ask students to choose the best answer.
Ajay and Jana were planning to
b. play soccer
c. take a study break
Less than ____ percent of elected heads of state are women.
Jana worked on an ___________ project.
Lucia plays ____________.
Ajay thinks both Jana and Lucia _____________________.
a. should vote
b. need to study for the exam
c. would be great leaders
(Answers: c, b, b, a, c)
Write these words on the board: multitask, grit, female, rare, percent, definitely, fantastic, opposition, crazy, relax, collaborate, elected, exam, terribly, moment, wait, absolutely. Ask students to create a 4X4 bingo grid on their paper, and choose 16 words from the board to write in the boxes (one word in each box), in any order. Instruct students to listen carefully, and put an X on any word they hear. When they have four words in a row, they need to shout “BINGO”!
Words from the board
Write the following phrases in big letters on strips of paper: at the moment, study break, heads of state, leadership qualities, terribly low, engineering project, fought for, believe in, both of you. Tape each strip of paper to the board, placing them randomly all over the place. Divide the class into two teams, and ask them to stand a few feet away from the board, each team on a different side of the room. Tell them when they hear a phrase, they must rush to grab the strip of paper, and return to their team. At the end of the listening, the team with the most strips of paper is the winner.
Play the listening track for students, and stop the recording in the middle of a sentence. Ask students to predict which word comes next. Then continue. Repeat several times, allowing students a few seconds to respond. Variation: You can also stop the recording and ask students to repeat the last two or three words they heard.
Share America Everyday Conversations has many other conversations on an intriguing range of topics: solar energy, starting a business, Halloween costumes, and visiting a museum. Visit the site and look for a conversation that would appeal to your students. Build a lesson around the conversation, using pre-listening and while-listening activities.
What other while-listening activities do you recommend? How do you keep students active and engaged while they are listening?