Tag Archives: Listening Comprehension

25: Go-To Activities for Your Teacher Toolbox (vol 1)

This episode is the first in a series of episodes that I will publish 4-5 times a year.  In these “Go-To Activities for Your Teacher Toolbox” episodes you will hear suggestions for go-to activities and games that require little-to-no prep and can be easily modified for any language or proficiency level.

Why Games and Activities:

  • useful teaching and learning tool
  • particularly useful when engaging and motivating unwilling and disinterested students
  • opportunities to practice speaking and understanding the target language
  • playing in (with) the language and building confidence
  • Brain Breaks – keep interest and focus
  • provide a relaxed context for risk-taking, lowering the affective filter
    and building community in the classroom.

4 games and activities that are:

  • little to no prep
  • can be pulled out at any time
  • are easily adapted to proficiency level of class

The games and activities:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

Lingt: Great Free Site that Facilitates Speaking



This is a great new site that is extremely easy to navigate and is very user-friendly.  The teacher can easily record his/her voice for students to hear, then the student simply clicks and records his/her own response to the question.  The student can then listen to what he/she said and easily delete and redo.  The teacher can add in text, YouTube Videos, and images as well.  The great thing about this site is that it is completely online and does not require downloading any software onto your computer or the student’s computer.  The students submit their spoken (or typed) response to the site and the teacher accesses the student work through his/her Lingt account.  Student do not have to sign up for an account, just the teacher (and it is FREE).  Students simply title their work with their name and the teacher accesses it that way.

I recently met the two MIT students who created this site and they are eager to get teachers using it so that they can make it as user-friendly and efficient as possible.  They are also committed to keeping this fundamental part of the site FREE.  You have to visit and try it out for yourself.  Wow!

Here is a rubric that I use to assess student performance using Lingt.

Try it out HERE.

Film in the Foreign Language Classroom

If your goal is to have students engage with the language, subtitles can distract their attention. If, however, you want your students to focus on a cultural aspect of the film, then it may be appropriate to use subtitles. If the focus is language, though, consider this format for guiding your students through the process of understanding the language that they are hearing.

Etre_et_avoir-15040206022008The basis of this teaching method is the development of schemata.  Schemata is simply the link between all thoughts and concepts on a topic that we as humans possess. For example, we think of the word “house,” but this word does not exist in our brain in an isolated vacuum. Rather, along with house, we have an entire web of concepts connected to it that we understand. We know that: we live in a house, a house has rooms, the rooms have names, we do particular things in each room, house are located in particular places, certain people live in houses, etc. All of this information connected to the idea of a “house” is a schemata.

When teaching students to comprehend language, it is important to explicitly teach them to access their schemata on the topic that they are listening to.  When watching a video, it is helpful to have students watch a scene three times. Perhaps you could do this with a few scenes in a movie rather the the entire movie.  Here is what happens during each viewing:

First Viewing:

Students should watch the scene (about 1-2 minutes long) without the sound.  During this viewing, students should focus on the visual aspects of the scene.  When the scene is done, students quickly list everything that they saw in the target language and make a hypothesis about the what is happening in the scene.  Based on this hypothesis, students should write down 5-10 words that they expect to hear.

Second Viewing:

During the second viewing, students should watch with sound and circle any words that they wrote down that they hear.  They will quickly see that they understand more because they have accessed the schemata around the topic.

Third Viewing:

Students should watch the scene with sound and no notes, during which they should understand much of the language, without having been given words by the teacher.  Rather, they are using their own intuition.

HERE are some movie exercises that follow this process.