Many comments from teachers have prompted me to describe how teachers can integrate these activities into their own classes and how these quizzes can be used even under the most basic of circumstances.
To begin with, the site was mainly designed for (1) self-access learning where students do the listening activities on their own, and (2) teacher-directed learning where the teacher asks students to complete certain exercises as a means of supplementing their classroom objectives. I should point out that the main objective isn't to test listening, but to help students how to learn to improve their listening, and this goal can be accomplished in part by doing all of the activities in each conversation.
However, without a general pedagogical framework focusing on objectives and outcomes, students might not be able to maximize their learning potential while using this site. Of course, students can come and go as they please (and the site wasn't designed to be a rigorous learning tool), but teachers and students will gain more if they have a plan in mind before they start studying.
The listening activities have been organized by approximate level of difficulty based on rate of speed, vocabulary, content, ambient noise, idiomatic expressions, and other factors; however, this is never an exact science. Because I have tried not to overly predigest the content for the consumption of the language learner, the materials can be challenging for very low students. In fact, the Easy level is designed for false or high beginners on up who have already studied some English, and not for true beginners.
Perhaps one of the most important steps that we can do to ensure the greatest success among lower students is to do the pre-listening exercises. Doing this step will help students prepare themselves to receive the message in the listening conversation by making predictions about the material they will hear.
Since the Internet is a very vast place, learners need guidance on where to go and what to do when they get there. The same is true of this site. A number of people stumble on to this site as they search the Internet and then do the exercises on their own. On the other hand, a number of learners hear about the site from their teachers and may be encouraged or assigned to use the site.
In the latter case, students often don't know how to proceed once they get here. To improve students' first experience with my site, I suggest the following steps:
Furthermore, many of the Pre-Listening Activities include a picture for stimulating discussion about the topic of the conversation, as seen in this example (from the listening quiz, Car Repairs ).Questions and discussion could involve helping students develop critical-thinking skills (e.g., determining cause and effect relationships, hypothesizing, making inferences, and drawing conclusions) rather than just simple straightforward answers (e.g., "What color is the man's car?"). Such skills are not only needed for the new generation TOEFL iBT, but also everyday interaction with people in academic and work environments. Thus, possible questions (using modals of speculation--- might, must, couldn't, has to, may , etc.) with this picture could include:
One common problem I see in working with international students is that they tend too overgeneralize and stereotype people and conditions quickly without all the facts. They don't know the importance of suspending judgement until sufficient and quality information is available to form valid statements about a topic. Typical statements people make are any of the following:
In response to this need, I am adding a series of tasks to each listening activity during 2010 that require the learner to investigate a related topic on the Internet. These tasks can be used in not only listening/speaking classes, but they would work very well in reading and writing classes. In using such critical-thinking activities, it is my hope that students will become better critical thinkers in their daily lives and in their studies.
Here are some examples:
Searching The Site:
Now, you can search any of my Websites ( www.esl-lab.com , www.dailyesl.com , www.englishvoices.org , www.ezslang.com , www.trainyouraccent.com , www.tips4students.com , and http://esl-lab.blogspot.com ) to help you find other listening activities. In other words, if you are looking for a specific topic like restaurants, hotels, or music, just enter the key words, and hit the Search button.
I encourage teachers to contact me with their own experiences with my site so we can share these with the wider Internet community. Good luck!