Keys to Strong Listening and Reading Skills

Giving students the tools for developing strong listening and reading skills means focusing on the following:

  • reading/listening for specific information;
  • reading/listening to understand the overall message;
  • making and confirming predictions;
  • monitoring comprehension and using strategies to overcome comprehension blocks;
  • inferring intended meaning and attitudes;
  • and using background knowledge and contextual clues to guess meaning.

Here are a few suggestions gathered from various sources that will help you incorporate these skill sets into your lessons.

  • Jigsaw activities: (Different groups of learners listen for different information within one text or each groups listens to just part of a passage). You will find jigsaw activities throughout the Interactive English series. These activities lightens the load for students as listeners/readers and gives practice in selective understanding.
  • Spend as much time on pre-listening/reading activities as on the actual tasks: activating prior knowledge, making predictions, previewing the tasks so students know what they’re looking for.
  • Always  have students listening or reading for a purpose – maybe the first time, a couple simple questions to check predictions or get the main idea; a second time for specific information with parts of a grid to fill in.
  • Have students fill in simple graphic organizers as they listen or read.  This is a stepping stone to note-taking; it visually shows them that they don’t need to write down everything they hear.
  • Have students do something while they listen or read such as comparing/checking answers; checking A/B answers after listening, etc.
  • Develop a set of questions ahead of time that get students thinking about each of the bullet points. (Who is talking? How does speaker A feel? Where are they? Can you summarize what just happened?, etc.) You can discuss these questions before and after the listening/reading text.

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