All-time favourite listening comprehension activity

A few further comments on an idea I tweeted earlier today…


I've been doing this with classes since before the Internet (!!!), taking a radio (what?!) into class to play the BBC news bulletin to learners First Certificate (B2) and above.

A one-minute bulletin is great, especially great now that you can have it with video (and no static!) and the task involves learners (individually) first listening; then listening again and transcribing everything they can; then comparing notes with a partner; then listening again and attempting to fill in any gaps.

If you're lucky (and yes, it's a bit hit and miss!) there will be at least one news item that will then lead on to discussion and debate.

It works because it's topical; it's real and up-to-the-minute; it's materials and preparation "light" (I don't make a transcription) but language and interaction "rich"; and it satisfies the principal requirement of my one-man crusade against the photocopier: number of photocopies required — none.

Persuading your learners to listen and watch such things on their own every day (they don't have to transcribe, of course!) is also a good idea as it's such great, extra listening comprehension practice.

On Twitter (@Tom_IHBCN), I post only one thing a day (and quite frequently not even that), always and exclusively things I think will interest language teachers and/or their learners.

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  1. hi

    thanks for this, have used one minute bbc news in the distant past but never as a transcription task.

    also regarding your crusade against photocopying you may be interested in reading about using piratebox as a way to distribute handouts –


  2. Interesting, Mura!

    I think, however, I'd always go for the easy option with students (I'm allergic to instructions 😉 !): Edmodo and Google Drive are great ways to distribute any handouts you might have…

    As well as being great ways for the learners to create any content.

    Edmodo — or WhatsApp, or similiar — are also great (and easy!) ways to share links to articles.

    For reading texts, there's so much online on sites like the Guardian and if you can provide a link, rather than copying the article, apart from anything else you've saving yourself time, not to mention photocopying.

  3. A (private) Google+ Community is also another way we can easily share stuff with a class.

  4. hi tom
    Certainly all those online options u mention r great,
    an advantage of piratebox is that students can connect when WiFi is dodgy or non existant in the class.
    It is also very easy now with the program available from Google play.
    Additionally there is less chance for sts to loaf off as they can't connect to web when connected to piratebox 🙂

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