Listening Power 2
Listening Power 2 with its accompanying four CDs is the second in a series of books that have a targeted approach to the listening skills that students need for standardized tests such as TOEFL and TOEIC. The lessons are practical for both inside and outside the classroom. The book is presented in four parts: Language Focus, Comprehension Focus, Note-taking Skills and Listening for Pleasure. Students are meant to work through the four sections at the same time as each other.
The Language Focus section teaches language such as questions, numbers, reduced forms, homonyms and sentence stress that are essential for listening comprehension but sometimes difficult to understand. One example of this is the unit about understanding numbers where it is pointed out that we use numbers in a wide variety of ways such as talking about prices, phone numbers,
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In the late 90’s, David Nunan referred to listening as the “Cinderella” skill, meaning a skill often ignored in language learning research due to a greater emphasis on speaking. With a flood of books on the subject of second language listening appearing over the past few years, from the practical (How to Teach Listening by J J Wilson) to the slightly more theoretical (Listening in the Language Classroom by John Field), listening’s Cinderella status might need an update.
Listening Myths is one of the most recent titles on second language listening and it proves to be an excellent overview for both the research-minded and the practicing teacher. Similar to two other books in a series from University of Michigan Press (Writing Myths and Vocabulary Myths), it is written around an interesting premise, which is to refute some common myths about teaching listening. The book explores eight myths in all. Each chapter contains three sections: In The Real World (an introduction to the chapter containing an engaging anecdote), What The Research Says (a concise overview of research relating to the myth), and What We Can Do (two or three suggestions for putting research findings into action).
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English for Academic Study: Listening
Listening in the English For Academic Study series published by Garnet Publishing is aimed in the general area of EAP (English for Academic Purposes) although, as explained below, its scope is probably much wider. It is designed to form a 5 to16 week course- the accompanying teacher’s book gives a few suggestions for how this can run. It could also be used as a supplement in other classes, especially IELTS or CAE preparation classes. Transcriptions of all recordings appear in both student’s book and teacher’s book, and the latter also includes photocopiable exercise and resources.
The outstanding feature of this book is the authentic listening materials on the accompanying CD, around which the text is based. These have been taken from various lectures at the University of Reading. While these have been re-recorded for clarity, the original wording has been retained and the speakers are real academics, not actors. Believe me, this makes a difference!
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How to Teach Listening
How to Teach Listening comprises a pleasant balance of relevant listening theory, amusing anecdotes, practical advice and usable material. It presents the practice of teaching listening in a very positive way. This is partly because the author is able to effectively communicate essential points with an economy of words and illustrate them using amusing examples and anecdotes, many of which can be used with students in class. The book’s layout also helps to make the subject matter easily accessible. The distinctive “blackboard” symbol, for example, allows those teachers looking for inspiration to quickly locate ideas for listening tasks. Similarly, summaries of key listening issues are often expressed in grey-shaded tables (for example, authentic vs scripted speech, note-taking and dictation) and are also easy to find.
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Teaching Second Language Listening
In contrast to grammar and phonology, picking up a book on listening or reading is usually guaranteed to make my heart sink. Identifying this as a weakness in my knowledge and getting a freebie review copy finally caused me to flick through and then sit down and read this new volume by Tony Lynch. I’m very glad I did, because it is full of new information and teaching ideas, and surprisingly easy to read.
The book is divided into four parts- Background Issues, Listening Processes, Teaching Second Language Listening, and Learning Second Language Listening. The title of the last section gives an idea straightway of how up-to-date the approach of this book is, with much more emphasis on self-study and using the internet than older books I have read had. This is even clearer in the titles of the bits that quarter of the book is divided into, being chapters on Learner-centred Listening and Listening Beyond the Classroom and including sections like Collaborative SAC Listening and Bringing the World into the Classroom.
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Listening in the Language Classroom
Listening in the Language Classroom is, as the title suggests, a book with a very specific focus. The author considers ‘listening’ as a neglected area in language teaching, and a skill sufficiently independent of others to warrant special consideration. He also rejects the idea that listening abilities develop naturally through repeated exposure to language and believes that listening classes involving CDs and accompanying comprehension questions do little more than test listening, rather than teach listening. Listening is seen, first and foremost, as a process- and a complex one at that, involving factors that native speakers take for granted and therefore neglect when trying to teach it.
The back cover tells us that ‘the book proposes a radical alternative to the comprehension approach’. This might suggest that Field recommends burning books and
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