Listening has always been a fun subject for me and my ESL students. Today’s age of information offers so many creative and interesting sources for listening material.
But what should your students do with that information once they have it? What are some real life applications of listening exercises? Here are some activities you can use in your ESL classroom to give your students a practical and realistic way to apply their listening skills.
5 Real Life Listening Activities for Your ESL Classroom
Filling Out Forms
Not all of your students will end up working at jobs that require listening to English speakers, but some will. So why not challenge everyone in your class to listen and record personal information from their conversation partner? Have your students role play in which one person must fill out a form with personal information from his conversation partner. The form could be a school application, a job application, a survey for information, or a vacation planner. If you can, get a native speaker to play the part of the information giver and let your students listen for the information they will need to fill out their forms.
Whether is it how to get to the library or where a party will be held, your students will have to listen to and follow directions in English. Give your students a town map (either real or one you design for classroom purposes) and give them directions to various places in the town. After students listen to a set of directions, ask them where in the town they are. This activity is also a great lead to review directional words as well as U.S. vs. metric measurements.
Do you need to make a doctor’s appointment? Are you scheduling auto repairs or a cleaning service? Whatever the reason, your students can simulate phone calls in which they schedule appointments. Have students work in pairs role playing a phone conversation in which one person makes an appointment and the other person schedules that appointment. Make sure each student gets a chance to play both parts during the pair work.
If possible, have a native English speaker record some information about herself that she might share during a job interview, or ask her questions and let her respond. Then have your students take on the part of the interviewer. Students can listen to the recording, make notes about the speaker, and then decide if they would hire her for whatever job they are filling. If you like, have your students listen to recordings from three different people and then decide who they would give the job to. Make sure each person gives the reasons they think their choice is the best qualified.
Most lectures may happen in the college classroom, but that is not the only context in which one person must understand and learn information another person presents. Give students some practice listening to and learning a monologue of information in a variety of contexts. You may want to include a classroom lecture, a server giving information about menu items at a fancy restaurant, a political debate, an infomercial, or a doctor giving a patient medical information and instructions.
ESL teachers have so many sources when it comes to interesting and lively listening material, but theoretical listening activities can only take you so far.
Giving them real life tasks based on listening tasks will give them a practical and hands on outlet for their listening practice.
What are some real life listening tasks you use with your students?