10 ways to use listening recordings from the course book for young learners

Most young learner course books have one or two listening recordings in each chapter, but what’s the best way to use them? Some may be too difficult, extremely dull, completely above our students knowledge, or way away from their level of interest, but there are plenty of ways to get something from most of them.

The following activities can be used with any songs, dialogues, or stories from young learner course books.


Activities from stories in the course books… Photo by Nick Piggott

Prediction activities

  • Pick out a few selected words from the song, dialogue, or story and type them on an ebeam slide, or just write them on the board. Add a couple of words which are not there. Students predict which words will be in the recording, or the order they will appear. When listening they circle the words which appear, or write a number beside each word to show the order.
  • Alternatively you could play the start of the recording, tell students the title of the song, or the theme, and get them to predict 3 words to listen for when you play it.

Reading the recording

  • Students can simply listen to the recording and follow it with their finger. Walk round and monitor to check they know where they are, and that they are actually doing it.
  • While you are listening as a class, stop the recording randomly and students have to say the next, or the last, word. You can do this as a class, which is better for songs, or ask people individually, which is best for dialogues and stories. You can also just get them to put their hand up instead of picking on students.

After having listened

  • Students read it out loud. You can do this in pairs or threes, and they can read out either a line each, a paragraph, or one section from a story. I have even done this word by word, so each student says one word only until they read through the whole song or story.
  • Students can then read in pairs in front of the class. This is great for picking up individual pronunciation problems, plus the kids love reading out loud to the class.
  • Students can then change a few words in the song, or story, and when they read it out the others have to listen for which words have been changed and make a note. Give them time to prepare which words they are going to change though. Also provide them with a focus, maybe certain vocabulary or grammar you want to concentrate on.
  • Rewrite the song, as a class. Allocate a line from a song to each pair, and get them to change a couple of words in it. Then write the whole song up on the board and sing it as a class.
  • Guess the picture. This is great for stories which have numbered parts of their story. It’s a simple idea. You just read out a phrase from the story and students have to shout out the number in the story, or hold up the appropriate number of fingers.

Sometimes I can get through most of the above in the same class. Definitely one prediction activity, one during, and 3 or 4 afterwards.

What about you? Have you got any decent activities for listening recordings in class?

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