Review ~ How to Teach Listening

An informative guide which offers a digestible combination of listening theory, tips and material.
Reviewed for Teflnet by Graham Cockcroft

How to Teach Listening

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.

Another great strength of the book is the width of its appeal. Whilst the book provides a wealth of insight for less experienced teachers, many of the listening-related issues covered would also be appropriate to the training needs of the more experienced. For example, the section on the teacher’s short-term role (at the beginning of Chapter 7) touches on more complex issues, such as how to anchor the lesson in what students already know. The Task File section is a wonderful resource for teacher trainers and offers a broad spectrum of listening-focussed sessions for both experienced and inexperienced teachers. The material, much of which is taken from mainstream course books, addresses key issues in a way which trainees will no doubt find enjoyable and memorable.

I also liked the quotation and the “Contents” section at the beginning of each chapter but would suggest dispensing with the “Conclusions” section at the end, simply because it does not draw any: it simply reminds us in very broad terms of the topics just covered, rather like the final slide of a business training presentation. This appeared a little odd alongside the impressive writing and content of the main body of the chapter. A summary of the key learning points, offering something more thought-provoking, would be more in keeping with the tone of the rest of the book.

However, the “Conclusions” point is a minor one and does not change the fact that How to Teach Listening achieves its stated aims. In my opinion, it has the potential to effectively educate teachers and to inspire them enough to try out new ideas in the classroom. And although one cannot improve one’s teaching ability merely by reading a book, the odds of this occurring are greatly improved if that book is well-written, entertaining informative and bursting at the seams with invaluable practical advice and activities, as is the case with How to Teach Listening.

Reviewed for Teflnet by Graham Cockcroft
April 2010 | Filed under Skills: Listening
Graham Cockcroft has been working as a freelance English teacher in Warsaw for eight years. He has also worked as ADOS and DOS, completed the LCCI Diploma in Teaching English for Business, and written both general and business materials for an online English training course. He has a great (some say irrational) passion for the Lithuanian language.

3 Comments on “Review ~ How to Teach Listening”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    I’m disappointed that this book (indeed the whole How to series from Pearson Longman isn’t available in the US. Do TEFL.net readers in the US have recommendations for comparable resources?

  2. Hall Houston Says:

    Jennifer:

    I ordered my copy of How to Teach Listening through Amazon.co.uk Go here to see the ordering information:

    http://tinyurl.com/27e8opg

    The book also appears here on the Amazon.com website:

    http://tinyurl.com/2vykgyp

    but the title is misspelled, so it’s not easy to find.

    The Book Depository also carries this title (and it might be cheaper):

    http://tinyurl.com/22ubynr

    Two other comparable resources on teaching listening:

    Second Language Listening by John Flowerdew and Lindsay Miller

    Practical English Language Teaching: Listening by Marc Helgesen and Steven Brown

  3. JPS Says:

    I strongly believe this timely book will meet the needs of the trainee teachers.

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