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Technologies for Listening and Speaking

Florez (1999) still makes a good framework for listening and speaking lessons by noting that such lessons “can follow the usual pattern of preparation, presentation, practice, evaluation, and extension” (p. 2). These steps generally include telling students what the goals of the activity are, making sure that they have the skills necessary to perform it, working with the target skill or form, noting learner progress, and following up. Teachers can use this framework to focus the lesson on language learning while integrating technology where it supports language learning most effectively and efficiently. Also, the TTS-LL, goal 3 specifically, call for learners’ ability in appropriately using and evaluating technology-based tools for communication and collaboration (Healey, 2018). Likewise, the standards for teachers, goals 2 and 4, specifically call for teachers’ integration of technologies with pedagogical knowledge to enhance the learning and teaching process and support efficient communication and collaboration between teachers, peers, and students (Healey, 2018). Following are three sample listening and speaking lessons that use Florez’s framework and integrate technologies at various points during the lesson to help students learn and practice speaking and listening.

Example 1

Lesson: Introducing CALL to Learners

Focus: Interviewing skills, discussion skills, oral summary, question formation, listening for main ideas.

Preparation: Show the learners the computers that they will be using. Ask them to brainstorm what computers are used for.  Ask what might be learned with/through computers in a language classroom (i.e., what topics, vocabulary, skills). Type these lists in a word processing or presentation program as the learners participate.

Presentation: Create a survey with learners to find out about previous computer use and skills among members of the class or program. Focus on vocabulary and grammar points as necessary. Work with the class on interviewing skills, model the procedure, and have learners practice with each other.

Practice: Have the learners conduct the survey orally with the target population and take notes on the answers. Learners record all the answers they receive in a simple database.

Evaluation: Based on the answers they received, have learners add to their original list of what computers are used for and what might be learned with/through the technology. Ask students to keep this list and to add to it during the course.

Extension: Have learners, individually or in small groups, survey other language classes. Ask them to report their findings back to the class, and then have the class discuss these findings before entering them into the database.

While working on this lesson, learners are encountering and practicing both pragmatic and linguistic features of the target language. They are meeting the CALL principles such as authentic social interaction, language production, and using technology as a learning tool (see chapter 1).

Example 2

Lesson: Cultural Debates Online

Focus: Debate/argument skills, discussion skills, presentation skills, question formation, formulating an opinion, asking for clarification, critical thinking skills, pronunciation, using phrases of agreement and disagreement.

Preparation: (a) With learners, brainstorm what culture means and why it is important to its members. Ask learners to reflect on recent or major changes to what they consider their culture. (b) Introduce learners to their e-pals (online pen pals) and have them record oral introductions of their own to send to their e-pals (e.g., through http://www.epals.com or using a social networking application like Facebook).

Presentation: Teachers should create a debate at Create Debate (http://www.createdebate.com/) and provide enough information on a cultural topic. Learners should read the background information and discuss it (e.g., compare it to their own culture, develop questions about the culture) online. They should learn how to pronounce vocabulary and to use forms as needed. Learners then express their opinion (Support, Dispute, Clarify) through the website. They may use other sources such as electronic and paper encyclopedias, online and off-line books and articles, films, and websites to gather additional information to support their argument.

Practice: Learners formulate their arguments in groups and then, at the appointed time, use a synchronous audio/video chat tool (e.g., WhatsApp at http://whatsapp.com, Paltalk at http://www.paltalk.com/, or Viber at https://www.viber.com/) to discuss their arguments with their e-pals. Learners should take notes during the conversations.

Evaluation: Learners discuss together what they have learned and if any parts of their argument have changed. They then present their argument to the class for additional feedback.

Extension: Learners prepare an entry for their oral journals about what they have learned from this activity and how it has impacted their ideas about their own culture. Or, they may start a new topic on the website and have others participate in the debate. Also, there are many open debate threads that the students can participate in and later discuss their opinions with their classmates.

While involved in content-based learning, these learners are also using oral language for a variety of purposes. The activity emphasizes the importance of linguistic skills, especially pronunciation, because learners interact orally with their classmates and with learners across the Internet. Pragmatics also plays a role as learners work on discussion skills such as turn-taking and interrupting.

Example 3

Lesson: Jazz Chants Online

Focus: Rhythm in oral English, adverbs of frequency, computer parts vocabulary, stress, pronunciation.

Preparation: Write a sentence on the board and review the terms stress, intonation, and rhythm. Discuss with students how these aspects in the target language may differ from these same aspects in their first language. Students can do some of the pronunciation exercises in the Skills section of One Stop English site (see Macmillan Education Publishers, 2018, http://www.onestopenglish.com/skills/pronunciation/) alone or in groups; then the class can practice with several sentences, marking the word stress and intonation patterns.

Presentation: Find “My computer’s crashed” chant at the One Stop English site (Macmillan Education Publishers, 2018).  Print or copy the script for each student. Students listen to the recording on the website as they mark the stress and intonation patterns and take notes on any pronunciation aspects that they need. Students can listen as many times as they need to. They compare their marks with one or more classmate’s and then the whole class corrects the marks on their scripts together.

Practice: Students practice the chant orally in groups or individually, and student listeners mark a script for student speakers to show the stress and intonation used. Speakers can then compare their performance to the corrected script.

Evaluation: Students can listen to, mark, and practice another chant from the website. Then, they can share their work with the class for feedback.

Extension: Learners pick a topic and find a partner. With their partner, learners then develop a jazz chant for the topic. They can record their chant for future class exercises, or they can present it to the class for evaluation and discussion.

Although this activity is focused on discrete skills, it provides learners with ample scaffolding and modeling, authentic audiences for their interaction, and many choices in their extension activity. In other words, this activity can support the principles of language learning and task engagement outlined in Chapter 1 by giving students authentic and meaningful input, having them work collaboratively, supporting them with feedback from peers, and helping them to notice variations in pronunciation. As is evident from the examples in this chapter, computers can promote listening and speaking in many ways that meet the tenets of language learning and task engagement.


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Technologies for 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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