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Supporting Listening and Speaking

The following two instructional techniques, which are fundamental to language learning, support listening and speaking.

1. Provide opportunities for students to notice.

As discussed in Chapter 1, noticing (Schmidt, 2001) is important in the language learning process. To be able to produce fluent and comprehensible speech and appropriately interact with others, students need to notice the forms and function included in language input that they receive and errors in their own linguistic output. Lightbown and Spada (2000, 2008) suggest that tasks should be carefully devised to provide students with access to correct forms, both isolated and integrated (Valeo & Spada, 2016), that they can discover together.

2. Include pragmatics in lessons.

Simply put, pragmatics is the study of language in use; that is, how meaning is formed through utterances between speakers in a specific context (SIL, 2018). Teachers can use any of the language modes to teach norms of social appropriateness in the target language culture if they make noticing these features a lesson objective (see Hanford, 2002; Hinkel, 2014, for more information on culture and pragmatics in language teaching and learning). For example, video segments in software can help learners understand body language, gestures, proximity, and other pragmatic functions while they listen. Although communication through the computer such as text and voice chatting can provide only limited pragmatic and sociocultural information, using the computer for these activities is similar pragmatically to using the telephone, another essential skill for many students.

When Ms. Ono in the opening scenario chose Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab for practice, she picked it because it presents scripts for students to use as scaffolds, allows students to choose the level at which to work, and provides opportunities to replay the audio segments, which helped students notice the grammar in native speech. Ms. Ono also wanted the students to have additional practice with the native pace in the audio. These segments were authentic and meaningful for students because they were planning a virtual trip to the United States; learners might even talk about these very topics on their trip. Although Ms. Ono did not expect that all students would gain in the same ways from using this site, exposing them to it helped prepare them for what they might encounter on their field trip.


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Supporting Listening and Speaking by Joy Egbert and Seyed Abdollah Shahrokni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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