Theoretical Background


Read the following theoretical information about the listening process and teaching it. Highlight or underline all ideas new to you.

The Role of Listening in the English Curriculum

Listening has always been considered an important skill in language learning. The Direct, Audio-lingual, Language Acquisition and Interactive Communicative language approaches have all highlighted the priority of learning this skill. Rivers and Temperly (1978), Oxford (1993) and Celce-Murcia (1995) agree that listening constitutes 45% of daily communication among individuals.

It is surprising, therefore, that teaching listening strategies and techniques has not received as prominent a place in the English curriculum. For instance, early language teaching methodologists referred to reading and listening as passive skills that develop automatically through exposure to the oral aspects of language. The listener therefore, was always at the passive receiving end of the communication process, Celce-Murcia and Larsen Freeman (1991). But, the video segment we are dealing with adopts the more recent view that listening is a complex process and that its strategies and techniques can be and should be taught and learned.

Listening Is a Complex Process

If we consider the various steps a listener goes through before he understands the meaning of a message and acts upon it, we will realize what difficulties a student faces while listening.

When listening to a message, the student has to distinguish spoken language from other sounds. He would then have to divide the stream of speech into words and keep meaningful chunks of the language in the short-term memory. However, a listener does not simply record what he hears as it is. He interprets it in the light of his background knowledge and his purpose for listening. The listener also determines, according to Brown (1994), whether the information should be retained in short-term or long-term memory. The first calls for a quick oral response while the other is more common while processing information in a lecture.

Some of the difficulties a listener meets include discrimination among distinctive sounds, stress, rhythm, and intonation. Note the difference in meaning between the following examples due to intonation differences:

 “The boss,” said the secretary, “is stupid.”
 The boss said, “The secretary is stupid.”

The listener has also to recognize abbreviated and reduced forms of words, word order, and key words. He has to guess the meaning from the verbal and nonverbal context and adjust listening strategies to different kinds of listening purposes. Above all, he has to use his background knowledge and experience, i.e., schemata, to make inferences, predict outcomes and understand relationships among ideas. All the above shows how complex and active the listening skill is.

It should be remembered, however, says Harmer (1998), that students get better at listening the more they listen and any help we can give students in performing that skill will help them to be better listeners.

Listening and Reading

Both listening and reading draw on knowledge of a language code, i.e., sounds, vocabulary and grammatical structures, experience or schemata of the listener and reader and situational/contextual clues to understand the meaning of the message. The two skills are characterized as problem solving activities because meaning is not in the text itself but in the minds of the listener or reader gained through first hand or indirect experience.

There are basic differences, however, between reading and listening. The reader reads at his own pace, pausing occasionally consulting the dictionary or teacher. The listener enjoys no such luxury. Controlled by the pace of the speaker, his choice of vocabulary and grammatical structures, the listener cannot be inattentive even for a moment, otherwise he may lose important parts of the message. Because if he does, he cannot go back to what has been said before or ahead to get an idea of what is coming next.

Listening and Speaking

Careful listening is essential for accurate pronunciation. Deaf people cannot pronounce correctly because they have not heard the words they try to say. In a face-to-face conversation situation, listening and speaking are key elements that keep the process going.

Listening Activities

El-Baz and associates in, “School Based Training” have listed many listening activities based on the “Hello!” series (pp 13-20) in four models: Listen and Identify, Listen and Write, Listen and Match, Listen and Follow Instructions. In addition, the following activities can be done individually and in pairs:
 Listen to decide what the speaker really means
 Listen to materials that correspond to a picture, drawing, map, diagram, etc.

O’Maggio “1986” mentions the following creative dictation techniques that depend on focused listening:
 Students write questions dictated by the teacher and answer them.
 Students fill in gaps on the written copy of the passage they hear.
 Sentences are dictated in random order for students to write and rearrange.

Activities in the rest of this training manual help trainers create opportunities for trainees to discuss and carry out exercises so that they can confirm and consolidate what they have heard.

As Handout 2 shows teaching listening can be divided into three stages, i.e., pre-listening, listening and post-listening. During the first stage, students are introduced to the listening text through analyzing the title, picture or diagram. They may discuss content, vocabulary and organization. While listening they are asked to perform activities that help them focus on the important ideas in the text. During the post-listening stage, they are asked to answer questions that consolidate what they have learned.

Listening in Egyptian Schools

As we have discussed above, listening is an active, complex process essential for communicative action and comprehension. Nevertheless, it has long been neglected in teaching English in Egypt. Because our students and teachers are exam-oriented and as long as listening is not part of promotional or regional exams, it will not be given the importance it deserves. Most teachers seem to take listening for granted without exerting efforts to help students develop strategies and techniques to learn it. Most of their efforts whether in schools or private tutoring, emphasize reading and writing skills that are essential for passing exams. The “Hello!” series includes many listening and speaking activities but students and teachers tend to pay little attention to them.


Instructional Objectives

As a result of viewing this video segment and participating in these activities, you will:

• become aware of listening as a skill that should be taught and
• identify the three phases of a listening lesson and their relevant goals.
• demonstrate familiarity with activities that :
 activate students’ attention.
 relate content to previous experience.
 reduce difficulties students meet while listening.
 promote discussion and speaking opportunities.
• apply techniques and strategies of teaching listening in their own teaching situations.

Summary of “Techniques for Teaching Listening”

In the video segment you will see Mr. Magdi Ghoneimy, a senior teacher at Gammal Abdel Nasser governmental Secondary School for Girls, in Zagazig, Sharkia Governorate, teaching a listening lesson to a class of 27 girls, based on “Hello! 8” page 83. For trainees who are not familiar with this text, a brief summary follows:

In the lesson, Mr. Farag is applying for the job of a medical representative in a famous company. During an interview with one of the company officers, he discusses his qualifications, personal qualities, work experience, CV and his reasons for wanting the job.

In the video lesson, Mr. Magdi pre-teaches the essential vocabulary, most of which can be found on pages 101 and 102 of the “Hello! 8” Teacher’s guide.

The video segment starts with a brief definition of the objectives of teaching listening skills and a recording of a live lesson in teaching listening. Students listen to an audiotape about an interview with Mr. Farag and then they respond to questions to check their comprehension. Three stages in the listening lesson are identified.

• Pre-Listening Activities: to prepare students for the segment, activate their background experience and explain difficult vocabulary.
• Listening Activities: to focus their attention on key ideas in the text.
• Post-Listening Activities: to ensure students’ comprehension and retention of the message.

The Mentor, Dr. Heba Zaiton, comments from time to time to point out important parts and explain key ideas. Finally the class teacher concludes with reflective remarks and comments on what he has done.



Answer the questions in the column entitled “BEFORE.” Then after reading Handout 1, add to your answers in the column entitled “AFTER.”
1.What is the role of listening in TEFL?

2.Difficulties faced by students learning this skill.

3.Difficulties faced by teachers teaching this skill.

4. The relationship between listening and reading.

5. The relationship between listening and speaking.

6. Activities to teach listening.


7. The role of listening in teaching English in Egypt.



While watching the video, think of answers to the following questions. Then, answer them in pairs or small groups.

1. What are the three stages of the listening lesson?

2. What is the goal of each?

3. What was Mr. Magdi’s opinion about teaching the lesson?



Part A. Below is a list of teacher and student activities that make up the lesson in the order in which they occur. As you watch the video lesson, fill in the missing words.
Teacher Activity Student Activities Purpose Served by the Activity
01 Teacher introduces the concept of work. Students listen to explanation of new -------------------------(1) 1.
02 Teacher gives instructions. Students guess ---------------(2) of people in the picture. 2.
03 Teacher gives instructions [one-minute time limit]. Students write ----------------(3) for a job interview. 3.
04 Teacher gives instructions [two-minute time limit]. Students give -----------------(4) to describe interviewee’s feelings. 4.
05 Teacher gives definitions of words from the ---------------------------(5) Students guess the word that ------------------(6) the definition. 5.
06 Teacher gives instructions. Students use some words in --------------------------(7) 6.
07 Teacher gives instructions. Students guess which
---------------------(8) Mr. Farag attended and what type of job he -------------------------(9) for. 7.
08 Teacher gives instructions.
[two-minute time limit]. Students read ---------------(10) from the book. 8.
09 Teacher checks understanding of questions. Students indicate that there are no ----------------------------(11) 9.
10 Teacher tells students they will listen ----------------(12) times to the tape, not to talk or write while listening. Students listen to the instructions. 10.
11 Teacher plays the tape, checks whether students can
-------------------------------------(13) Students listen to the tape 11.
First Listening
12 Teacher stops the tape and gives instructions. Students ---------------------(14) what will be said next on the tape. 12
13 Teacher asks students if they want to listen again. Students indicate they
--------------(15) to listen again. 13.
14 Teacher instructs students to
------------------------(16) questions. Students reread questions in their books. 14.
Second Listening
15 Teacher plays the tape through without ---------------------------(17) Students listen to the tape a second time. 15.
16 Teacher gives instructions.
[three-minute time limit]. Students write answers in their notebooks and
---------------------------(18) them with their partners. 16
Comprehension Questions
17 Teacher solicits answers to questions in the books. One student reads question aloud, another reads her
----------------------------(19) 17.
Going Beyond the Lesson
18 Teacher asks students if they think Mr. Farag will get the job. Students -----------(20) whether they think he’ll get the job. 18.

Part B.
After you watched the video and filled in the gaps, check your answers in pairs.

Then look at each activity again to decide which of the following purposes apply to each activity.

Put the appropriate code letter(s) in the third column, “Purpose Served by the Activity.” Note that more than one purpose could apply to some activities.

Use these Codes:
E- Raises the students’ expectations so they become interested in
listening to find out if their guessing is true.
C- Helps make sure the students can successfully comprehend what
they hear.
I- Promotes interaction, speaking, and communication.
M- Challenges students and enhances their motivation.



1. What is the warm-up exercise that the teacher does at the beginning of the lesson?

2. Why does the teacher ask the students to look at the picture in the book?

3. Why does the teacher ask the students to predict the content of the listening?

4. Why do you think it is important for teachers to explain difficult words before students listen? List three other ways in which vocabulary may be introduced.

5. Choose three adjectives that best describe the teacher in the segment.

6. Comment on what surprised you most about the teaching techniques or methodology you learned from the video and these training materials.

7. What do you know about teaching listening that you did not know before viewing this segment and participating in the activities?

8. If you were to train a beginning teacher what one thing would you choose from the video to share with that novice teacher?



Answer the following questions based on the video segment and your own experience.

1. How satisfied was the teacher with the lesson he gave? Would you agree with his self-evaluation?

2. To what extent were the activities Mr. Magdi presented suitable to the level of your class?

3. Have you ever used a tape player in your class? If yes, how did it go?

4. How do you normally teach listening when it appears in “Hello!”?

5. Would you like to try out some of Mr. Magdi’s activities? Which do you think are most suitable for your classroom situation?

6. If Mr. Magdi was teaching a much larger class (60 students), what do you think he would have to do differently? What would still be the same?

7. If Mr. Magdi had slow learners in his class, how do you think he might change his lesson?

Task Sheet 6


While watching the Mentor’s post-lesson commentary, fill in the gaps with the stages of the listening lesson.

Stages of the Listening Lesson Techniques at Each Stage

---------------------------------------- Warm-Up:
Use the context to build up expectations.
Require students’ predictions.


First Listening

For general comprehension and main idea

Pause the tape ask for predictions.


Help students provide responses to the questions.

Play the tape through.


- Comprehension Questions
- Discussion
- Going beyond the listening


This tape was designed as an observation of a listening lesson, but lends itself to observation of general language teaching practice, as well. The following activities have been designed to make use of the observation to reflect on the following aspects:

 Functional Use of the Board
 Motivating Students Using Praise

They elicit description of the lesson related to each of these aspects, with discussion leading to an activity that gets trainees to develop their own guidelines for best practice. Each is based on a re-viewing of the same selected short segment of the tape.

Because the same segment of the tape can be used for both activities and the activities should take about the same amount of time, it may be motivating to allow trainees to select which aspect interests them. Divide them accordingly, and have each half work separately on its individual task, as a whole or in smaller groups, according to the number of participants. They can then report the results of their work back to the whole group of participants.


A white/black board is one of the most important tools a teacher uses. The goal of this activity is to observe, describe and think about Mr. Magdi’s use of the board. Drawing on this observation and the teaching experience of the trainees, help them to present and develop principles for best practice.

Show the pre-listening part of the video lesson. Ask participants to come up with three adjectives to describe Mr. Magdi’s use of the blackboard.

Trainees will then share their adjectives in their groups, with one trainee assigned as a recorder, writing a comprehensive list.

They then discuss what they observed in terms of what they consider best practice, using the following questions to guide their discussion. [Time limit-10 minutes]

 What does Mr. Magdi do right?
 Why do you consider this good practice?
 What are some of the other ways one can use the board besides for vocabulary?

Participants consider their own common practice, and they develop another list of possibilities.

Dos and Don’ts for Board Use [Time limit-15 minutes]
Divide trainees into groups of four or five. Give each the following set of instructions:
Your group has been selected to develop guidelines for blackboard use for this teacher-training workshop. Refer to your own practice and experience to develop a model list of Dos and Don’ts. After you are finished, choose one person to present your list to the rest of the participants in the “workshop”, using the blackboard as an aid.

Allow each group’s representative to give its presentation.


Motivation refers to the effort a person is willing to put forth to accomplish a task. According to Brown (1994), two kinds of classroom features have been shown to motivate students. One is appropriately challenging tasks, the other is positive feedback for the effort made. The goal of this activity is to describe Mr. Magdi’s use of praise and reflect on one’s own use of praise in comparison.

Show the pre-listening section of the video lesson. Before viewing, trainees will be given the “Positive Feedback Task Sheet,” and asked to make a tick every time they hear the teacher use one of the various listed responses.

After tallying each type of response, trainees can work as a group to come up with a description of Mr. Magdi’s use of praise, considering the following issues: (either to be written on the board for all participants, or recorded by a group recorder)
 number of responses
 variety of responses
 genuineness and sincerity
 selectivity
 frequency of specifying what behavior he is praising.

For group discussion: [Time limit-10 minutes]
 Can a teacher give too much praise?
 Which of Mr Magdi’s responses do you consider more motivating?

Dos and Don’ts for Giving Praise [Time limit-15 minutes]
Divide the trainees into groups of four or five. Give each the following set of instructions, with a large piece of heavy paper and markers.

Your group has been selected to develop guidelines for teachers for giving praise in class. Using your experience, and your observation of Mr. Magdi’s class, develop a checklist of Dos and Don’ts for giving praise. Use them to create a poster and hang it on the board or have one of the group members make a presentation to the participants in the “workshop.”



As you listen to this part of the lesson, make a tick in the appropriate place each time you hear the teacher make one of the following positive responses.

(Each member of the group can be assigned responsibility for listening for a different response.)

Positive Response Times Used

“very good”





“very big word”

Brown, H. Douglas, “Teaching By Principles”, 1994, Longman.
Celce-Murcia, M., 1995, “Discourse Analysis and L2 Teaching of Listening”, in G. Cook and B. Seidlhofer. (eds.)
El-Baz et al, “School Based Training”, 2000, MOE, IELP II, USAID
Harmer, Jeremy, “How to Teach English”, 1998, Longman
Hubbard et al, “A Training Course for TEFL”, 1996, Oxford University Press
O’Maggio, Alice C., 1986, “Teaching Language in Context”, Heinle and Heinle
Oxford, R. L., 1993, “Research Update in Teaching L2 Listening”, System 22/2
Rivers, W and M Temperley, 1978, “A Practical Book in the Teaching of English”, Oxford University Press.

Dickenson, L., 1987, Self-Instruction in Language Learning, Cambridge University Press.
Contains a wealth of practical exercises, preparation activities and teaching techniques which teachers can use directly or adapt to their own situations.

Hedge, Tricia, 2000, Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom, Oxford University Press.
Provides ideas and insights into teaching. Helps teachers reflect on their own practice and aims to develop insights into issues, problems and possibilities in ELT.

Richards, J. C., 1990, The Language Teaching Matrix, Cambridge Language Teaching Library.
Designed for use in courses on language teaching and methodology and teacher preparation; also serves as a good source for language curriculum and teaching practice.

Answer Key

Task Sheet 1: BEFORE/ AFTER
Questions 1-7 any answers the trainees offer will be summarized as they are on the left side of Task Sheet 1.

1. Very important for all skills, we listen 45% of our communication time.
2. Students were not taught listening strategies in previous school years.
3. Teachers were not well prepared in FOE for teaching listening.
4. Both skills depend on the experience of the reader and listener and the verbal and physical context.
5. Nobody can pronounce anything accurately if he has never heard it.
6. Listen and write, read, act, understand.
7. Teaching listening is taken for granted because it is not part of the final exams.

Task Sheet 2: VIEWING
1. Pre-listening, listening and post-listening.
2. A) To prepare the students for the text, B) To make sure they follow and understand the text, C) to reinforce and consolidate the comprehension of the text
3. He thought the students did understand the text and enjoy the lesson.

1. words 5. context 9. is applying 13.listen 17. stopping
2. the roles 6. fits/ matches 10.the questions 14.guess 18. check
3. questions 7. sentences 11. problems 15. want 19. answer
4. adjectives 8. schools/faculties 12.two 16. read 20. guess

1. C/E 4. E/M 7. E/M 10. C 13. C 16. I
2. E 5. M/C 8. C 11. C 14. I 17. I
3. M 6. I 9. C 12. E/M 15. C 18. M/I

Summarize: 1, 2, 1, 1, 2.

• Teacher explains meaning of new words and the content and purpose of the tape
• To match what they see with what they hear and know the roles of the people in the picture
• Because he wants them to think more about what may happen
• To get them involved in the listening task. Vocabulary can be introduced through: matching words with pictures, word trees and lexical sets and matching words with meanings.
• Any suitable answer, e.g., helpful, experienced, friendly, etc.
• Open Answer
• Open Answer
• Open Answer

Collected by: Dr_Mdsubahi


abbreviate: make short or reduce
activate: bring to life, move or excite
associates: people working together
audio-lingual approach: an approach which considers listening and speaking ahead
of reading and writing
brainstorming: the teacher helps students to express their ideas orally without
interruption or correction
categories: kinds, types
chunks: pieces that belong together
complex: difficult, not simple, made of many parts
correspond: match
distinguish: find the difference between.
essential: important, necessary
exposure: the act of hearing, feeling and seeing something for a long time
FOE: Faculty of Education
heading: title
highlight: emphasize, consider important
indicate: show
instructional: used in teaching
inference: guessing, knowing the reason and the result of something
KSA: knowledge, skills, and attitudes
MOE: Ministry of Education
monitor: regularly watch or check
objectives: aims, goals to be reached
opportunities: chances
optional: not necessary, left to the desire of the person
participate: take part in
predict: guess
pre-view: see before
process: understand or analyze
promote: develop or make something happen
positive: good or encouraging
post-viewing: after seeing something
random: without a definite plan or system
reduce: make less
reflection: thinking back on something that was done or said
relate: tie or remind or add closely to
representative: one who speaks for a company or a person
retain: keep
segment: part
target: aim, objective, something you try to reach
techniques: ways of doing something
theoretical background: the principles underlying a certain idea or concept problem
visible: clear, can be easily seen
warm-up: to prepare for an upcoming activity