How to Create Useful ESL Listening Activities


How to Create Useful ESL Listening Activities Of all the skills, listening is the most difficult to teach, and ESL listening activities can be the hardest to create.

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Improved listening only comes with time and with practice.

So what ESL listening activities can you, as a teacher, provide to help your students improve their listening?

The most important thing you can do is to lead your students towards interesting listening materials.

The internet is very useful for this, and YouTube is a great source for genuine English listening practice.

If you do use YouTube in a lesson, however, make sure you check the videos first. You don't want any unexpected swear words appearing in your activities!

Try and include listening practice in every lesson.

It isn't enough for the students just to hear your voice. They need to listen to a variety of voices and accents.

If there are some expressions that are pronounced very differently in natural English from how they may be taught (for example, "gonna, wanna," etc,) then make sure they are aware of these.

The activities you create around the listening will give this practice some meaning. There are several activities you can use in your lessons. Try and vary them to avoid the students becoming bored.

ESL Listening Activities Tips

1. Play the piece at least twice

Always play the piece at least twice.

The first time the students listen, you should give them a general question to answer, or ask them to tell you anything they heard and can remember.

Do not give them another activity to do until they have heard the text once already.


2. Comprehension questions

You can create comprehension questions for your students to answer on the second listening.

This will help them listen for specific pieces of information.


3. Fill out the blanks script

Give them a copy of the script with words blanked out. They then listen and fill in the missing words.

This will help them focus on the text at word level. Listening for this kind of detail is a useful skill.

Do not give this out the first time they listen, or they will spend their time reading, and not listening.


4. Go over the new vocabulary beforehand

You should try to pre-teach some of the difficult vocabulary they may hear.

To pre-teach means to teach something before using it in a real situation.

5. Splitting the piece

If the piece they are listening to is a long one, split the students into groups and ask them to concentrate on different parts of it. If it is a long piece then students can lose concentration and not understand as much.

You can also play different pieces to different groups and ask them to tell others what they heard.


Encourage your students to listen to something in English every day.

It doesn't need to be a full length movie or a whole radio show. Even just a few minutes every day can help them get used to listening to English sounds and English words.

Even a talk radio station on in the background while they are doing other activities will help them.

If they do this, combined with the ESL listening activities in your classes then they will certainly improve.

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