Are you looking for a way to incorporate listening and speaking learning centers into your ESL classroom?
Try one of the following with your class and give students some ownership in their own language learning process.
Apply These 10 Ideas for Listening and Speaking Centers
If you have the resources (tape player/recorder or some digital recording method) you won’t need much more to set up a reading and recording center for students to evaluate and practice correct pronunciation. Simply set out the recording device along with several copies of a short reading passage. The reading passage should be something your students can read in two to five minutes and that includes a variety of pronunciation challenges. Students using the center read the passage into the recording device and then play it back to check their own pronunciation. As they listen, they should mark on the reading passage any problems they note in their own pronunciation. You can also leave a recording of yourself at the center for students to use as a model or reference.
Phonology for You and Me
If you have taught the phonological alphabet to your ESL students, this center might be right for your class. Since the phonological alphabet focuses on pronunciation and sound, unusual spellings won’t throw your students off, even on unfamiliar words. This simple set up learning center gives students sets of vocabulary words written in the phonological alphabet. They read the words aloud and then match each word to its definition, which you can list on a separate piece of paper or write on index cards. Students will get practice with accurate pronunciation while they also review vocabulary and won’t get tripped up by reading difficulties.
Interview for Me and You
This learning center is designed for two students at a time. At the center, simply provide a list of interview questions for students to ask their classmates. Students using the center will interview each other using these questions or others like them. Students should take turns asking and answering questions while they try to learn new things about someone they see every day.
Listen and Learn
If you want your students to practice listening and identifying what they hear, you can set up a dictation center. Give your students several choices of listening selections (passages you have recorded yourself, listening resources like cds or other teaching materials you won’t be using in class, online videos or audio selections, podcasts, etc.). When using the center, students should listen to the material, stopping the recording as necessary, and write down what they hear word for word. This will require careful listening along with speed and accuracy. You should also provide a transcript for each recording so your students can check their accuracy once they have completed writing the passage.
Listening for Detail
Can your students pick out important information when they listen to English, information such as dates, names and other specifics? On a classroom computer, bookmark or download some short informational passages. How to videos on YouTube are great resources for this type of listening. For each video, list five or so informational questions on an index card that the video answers. As a student listens to the passage, he notes the answers to the questions on a separate piece of paper. At this learning center, make sure you also have answer keys so students can check their own answers.
How Does that Song Go?
This learning center challenges students to listen for specific vocabulary as they listen to a popular song. Choose some of your favorite tunes or those you think your students will like that also have easily discernable lyrics. For each song, print out a copy of the lyrics with key words replaced by blanks (like a modified cloze exercise). As your students listen to each song, they should fill in the missing words as they hear them. As always, provide answer sheets for each song at the learning station so students can check their own work after they listen.
Listen and Watch
The British Council provides free listening activities on their website for ESL students. Videos range from beginner level to advanced and come with activities your students can do as they listen. Simply direct your students to the website on a classroom computer or on your students’ smart devices. All they have to do is choose a video and an exercise to go with it. Note the segments on this website are in British English, so they might not be the best choice for those learning and teaching American English.
If your students like working with their hands or exercising their art skills, this center will fulfill their learning style like no other. Your students will be following your directions for constructing an object with building blocks or drawing picture. If you choose to use Lego building blocks, record yourself as you talk through building a simple item. It might be a house, a letter of the alphabet, or any other simple design. Make sure your recording specifies colors and sizes of the blocks. At the center, make the Legos and the recordings available to your students. As they listen they should follow your directions and, hopefully, build the same object that you did. Similarly, if you want students to draw rather than build at this station, record yourself giving directions for drawing a simple picture without telling students what they are drawing. Include a reference photo at the center so your students can check their work. Once students have listened to a passage and drawn a picture or built something, they should check the reference picture to see how close they got to replicating your design.
Old Books to New Use
Do you have listening books and materials from a previous class that you aren’t using this year? I know I have several on my bookshelf. These materials can have a second life in a learning center for your students. Simply put out the book and the audio that goes with it and let your students learn at their own pace.
Lots of ESL websites have listening activities your students can do on their own. Bookmark a few of your favorites on a classroom computer and let students go to it.
Learning centers are great for helping students become independent, motivated learners. These are just some of the ways you can incorporate them into your listening and speaking ESL class.
Do you include learning centers in your listening and speaking class?
What are your favorites?