When supplementing the traditional course books with listening materials you need to make sure that the principle of integration is observed: choose an activity in a piece of supplementary material that seems to fit in with and reinforce the other materials in the lesson. You may build tasks asking for filling in messages forms while listening to phone calls, writing down train or plane times, shopping lists, etc. You may also turn reading texts in a traditional book into tape scripts. In addition, there is a great deal of potential listening material around us. You simply need to look around and make use of it. Of course, it takes time and energy to make your own bank of tapes and build adequate tasks, but it is worth it. (Bălan, 2003:284-285)
According to (Miller, 2003:2), one of the major advancements to come out of research into listening strategies was the understanding that listening exercises could be divided into three main parts: pre-listening, while-listening and post listening activities. This division has proved very fruitful for the learners as well as teachers. For example, in the pre-listening stage a teacher can start a short discussion with the learners with the aim to know about their views about the topic which s/he is going to start. In this way s/he will be activating their world/personal knowledge about the topic. Then the learners can be asked to share whatever information they got from the text in an extended discussion in the post-listening stage. In between these two stages the learners can be given help to remain focused on their listening by careful selection of tasks that are meaningful and that cater to developing specific listening skills.
Miller, (2003:5) gives some practical suggestions as how these divisions can be used with authentic materials delivered through technological media like radio, television, and internet/CD-ROM. About the use of radio Miller contends that using real time radio is one of the more easily accessible forms of authentic listening practice in a class room that a teacher can give to his/her learners. Being cheaper in price, all the teachers can afford it. Secondly, it can be easily taken to the class room. Airwaves are filled with programs twenty four hours per day and radio stations like BBC and Voice of America are constantly on air. In order to use radio in a class room a teacher can select a suitable program on some global listening tasks for his/her learners. Similarly about the use of TV/Videos in a classroom Miller argues that activities with television/videos can also be divided into three main parts: pre-listening, while-listening and post listening. The use of TV/Videos in a classroom can also give learners a good practice of listening. They have an upper hand over the radio as here they can also see what is happening, in addition to listening to the text. Students often watch movies for entertainment.
A teacher, in a language classroom, can sensitize the learners to how they can make use of movies to help them develop their second language listening skill. Miller further says that a rapid increase is noticed in the development of internet facilities and CD-ROMs. This has enabled the teachers to direct the learners to sites on the internet where they can practice their listening. Youngsters are very much interested in the use of computers. So this interest can be utilized in improving their listening skill. Strategy can be planned by suggesting to the learners a creative discussion about the news.
One of the reasons why listening is not given proper attention by the teachers seems to be the fact that listening skill is considered as passive skill. Morley, (2002:29) argues that listening has been labeled as a passive skill though it is not so. Anderson and Lynch, (1988:103) also hold the same view and reject the concept of listening as a passive act by terming listener as a ‘tape recorder’. Morley stresses that students must also be realized the fact that listening is not a passive skill. Hence it is the duty of the teachers to guide the learners to realize that achieving skill in listening requires as much hard work as required to become skilled in reading, speaking and writing.
According to (Morley, 2002:32), considering the role played by us in listening, the three specific communicative listening modes can be identified as: bidirectional, unidirectional and auto directional. In bidirectional mode two or more participants take their turns and play the role of speaker and listener. In unidirectional listening mode auditory input comes from variety of sources and, more often, we show reaction to that input by talking to ourselves and analyze whatever we hear. In auto directional listening mode, we attend to our own internal language while we plan something in our mind and make decision. These modes constitute an important language behavior and should be discussed with the students.
While discussing the development of listening comprehension activities and materials, Morley stresses three principles to be followed by the teachers. These principles are the principles of: relevance, transferability/ applicability and task orientation.
- By the principle of relevance it is meant that the listening lesson content and its outcome should be as relevant to the learner as possible. This factor will motivate the students and they will remain very much attentive while listening to the information. The lesson will appeal to students very much if the lesson focuses on things from real life. In the self-created class room listening activities, it is very much easy to control relevance. However with published materials, it is necessary for the teacher to select those lessons which are relevant to the students.
- By transferability/ applicability it is meant that the content and outcome of the lesson used for the activity should be such that it can be used by the students in other classes as well as in out of school situations. For example the activity with radio or TV broadcasts serves the purpose not only for listening comprehension but its content can be used for discussion outside the school.
- In the task orientation, tasks are assigned to the students after the listening activity and the success of the listening activity is judged from the performance of the tasks by the students. So for as listening instructional activities are concerned Morley recommends Listen-and-Do format for listening instructional activities in the ESL or EFL curriculum. It implies an outcome objective. “Outcome”, according to Sinclair, is a realistic task that people can envision themselves doing and accomplishing something.