Critique of Listening Materials
The three consecutive units of work critiqued are from ‘My Pals are Here! Primary 6 Units 5, 6 and 7. The focus of the critique is on the listening activities in each unit.
In the critique, three aspects of the listening materials will be discussed: the extent to which the materials
(a) provide opportunities to develop the core skills for listening
(b) promote the comprehension of authentic language or production of
realistic and authentic communicative outcomes
(c) encourage learners to reflect on their own learning and development
Critique of materials in Unit 5: A Twist in the Tale
Checklist from Rost (2001)
(1) There was a careful selection of input sources (appropriately authentic, interesting, varied and challenging) Morley (1984) cited in Rost (2001) recommended
(2) There was a creative design of tasks (well-structured, with opportunities for learners to activate their own knowledge and experience and to monitor what they are doing)
(3) assistance to help learners enact effective listening strategies (metacognitive – planning & monitoring, cognitive – linguistic inference & elaborating and social – questioning & self-encouragement)
(4) integration of listening with other learning purposes (with appropriate links to speaking, reading and writing)
Listening as a skill, a process and a product
As proposed by Underwood (1989) cited in Rost (2001) describes listening activities in 3 phases There is a three-tier lesson structure, comprising pre-listening, listening and post-listening phase. In the pre-listening phase, there was tuning in or orientation by activating prior knowledge or language required. In the listening phase, the listening outcomes was clearly stated. In the post-listening phase, there was an extension of the listening outcomes.
According to Goh (2002), listening tasks can be divided based on the listener participation involved: one-way or two-way listening. One-way listening tasks are transactional whereby they are concerned with obtaining information and knowledge. Two-way listening tasks are intertransactional whereby they demand various degrees of oral interaction with the speaker, ranging from asking questions, offering information and expressing opinions.
What key listening skills are practised through each task – Goh (2001)
(a) listening for gist
(b) listening for details
(c) drawing inferences
(d) listening selectively
What strategies do pupils need to use – (Rost 1994 cited in Rost 2001)
How are pupils involved in active listening – (Rost 1991 cited in Rost 2001)
(a) global listening to focus on meaning
(b) intensive listening to focus on form
(c) selective listening to focus on specific outcomes
(d) interactive listening to focus on strategy development
Critique of materials in Unit 6: It’s Funtastic
Critique of materials in Unit 7: Children around the world
Recommendation to adapt or supplement the materials to address the shortcomings
An extension task can be incorporated in the listening activity as a follow up or for awareness-raising.
Keeping a listening diary will provide the right stimulus for pupils to reflect on their listening (Goh, 1997).
To guide their retrospection, the following reflection probes can be provided
|What is my purpose for listening?||Goal definition|
|What am I listening to?||Confirm comprehension|
|What attitudes/beliefs helped me listen well?||Elicit person knowledge(personal factors that influenced listening)|
|What attitudes/beliefs prevented me from listening well?|
|What helped me to understand the text?||Elicit task knowledge (task factors that influenced listening)|
|What prevented me from getting the correct answers?|
|What did I do to understand as much of the text as possible?||Elicit strategy knowledge (strategies for facilitating listening)|
|Were my strategies effective? What else should I do the next time I listen?|
Adapted from: Goh (2002) Raising Metacognitive Awareness about Listening and
Goh (2006) Table 1: Reflection probes
According to Wenden (1991) cited in Goh (1997), metacognitive knowledge in language learning can be divided into three categories: person, task and strategy. Person knowledge refers to ‘what learners know about themselves as learners, and the beliefs they have about what leads to their success or failure in learning a language’. Task knowledge refers to ‘what learners know about the purpose, demands, and nature of learning tasks’. Strategic knowledge refers to ‘knowing which strategies are likely to be effective in achieving learning goals’.
Listening self-reflection checklist (Tick the box that best describes you.)
SA – Strongly agree, A – Agree, D – Disagree, SD – Strongly disagree
|1||I stop and search for meanings of words|
|2||I think of words and spell them out mentally|
|3||I translate words into Mandarin|
|4||I reconstruct meaning from words heard|
|5||I visualise all the words that are heard|
|6||I cannot distinguish important points|
|7||I am slow to recall sounds of words that sound familiar|
|8||I do not recognise sounds of word which I know in writing|
|9||I understand individual words, but do not get overall meaning|
|10||I miss the rest of the text when there is a lapse in concentration|
|11||I miss the next part when thinking about words or interpretation|
|12||I cannot remember words/phrases I have just heard|
|13||I cannot divide streams of speech into words or parts of a sentence|
|14||I mistake one word for another similar-sounding one|
|15||Unfamiliar vocabulary is a problem|
|16||Different accents is a problem|
|17||The rate of speech is too fast.|
|18||The lack of existing knowledge and experience is a problem|
|19||The length and structure of sentence is a problem|
|20||I have used visual cues e.g. pictures, etc|
|21||I have activated my knowledge of context from titles, etc|
|22||I have ignored unfamiliar words|
|23||I have taken notes|
|24||I have recognise discourse markers|
|25||I have recognise tones/intonation features|
|26||I have guessed or inferred meanings|
|27||I have paid attention to repetitions|
|28||I have visualised the setting/subject|
|29||I have used existing knowledge to interpret|
|30||I will talk to competent speakers frequently|
|31||I will listen to different varieties of English and local accents|
|32||I will listen to all kinds of materials|
|33||I will improve my vocabulary|
|34||I will develop specific listening skills e.g. listening for gist, details, etc|
|35||I will listen to different types of input and be familiar with their organisation and structure|
|36||I will be familiar with pronunciation of words|
|37||I will listen to things I enjoy or am interested in|
|38||I will keep a listening diary|
Adapted from Goh (1997) Table 1- 3
Based on Goh’s (1997) recommendations, ‘process-based discussions’ about listening from a metacognitive perspective can be built into the listening lesson to enhance pupils’ awareness of their own as well as other pupils’ awareness of learning to listen which in turn will enable them to evaluate and improve their own learning practices.
Goh, C. & Yusnita, T. (2006) Metacognitive instruction in listening for young learners. ELT Journal, 60/3.
Goh, C. C. M. (2002) Teaching Listening in the Language Classroom. SEAMEO Regional Language Centre, Singapore Chapters 2 and 3.
Goh, C.C. M. (2001) Designing Listening Comprehension Tasks. Guidelines, 23/2.
Goh, C.C. M (1997) Metacognitive awareness and second language listeners. ELT Journal, 51/4.
Rost, L. (2001) Listening. In R. Carter and D. Nunan (eds) The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. pp. 7 – 13.