Do you TEACH listening?

My class consists of 19 students, of which only 1 speaks English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 speak at least one, if not two other languages in their homes. Most of my students speak Arabic, but many also speak French. I have 3 who speak French and not Arabic, 1 who speaks Spanish, and 1 who speaks a Philippine dialect. All of my students speak SOME English, but to varying degrees. My job is to teach them English, while also teaching them everything we normally teach in school (reading, writing, math, science, social studies etc.) Fortunately, I am certified to teach ESL and have some experience with English Language Learners. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. So, from now on, I will now be doing a Teaching Tip Tuesday geared especially towards teaching English Language Learners. Here’s this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:


ELL Teaching Tip #7: Teach and understand all 4 domains of language

Have you ever read your English Language Arts standards?  Generally, as teachers, we work really hard on the reading and writing standards, but have you ever taught (or even read) the listening and speaking standards?  They are a part imageof every English Language Arts curriculum, including the Common Core Standards, and include things like “students should describe people, places, things and events with relevant details” and “ students should ask and answer questions about what a speaker says”.  Since these standards seem so much easier than “students should write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure”, listening and speaking standards have a tendency to fall by the wayside.  This is especially true because native English speakers often accomplish the listening and speaking standards with little to no instruction.  English Language Learners, on the other hand, need direct instruction in listening and speaking standards.  As a teacher, I know that there’s not enough time to teach what we already have on our list, let alone to add more.  So, here’s a list of suggestions on how to incorporate all 4 domains of language within what you’re already doing.

***  The first thing to do to help yourself incorporate listening and speaking standards is to READ them, so take a planning period, and print and read your listening and speaking standards.  Then, post those standards near wherever you write your lesson plans.  This way, you’ll have them in the back of your mind when you are planning your weekly activities.  ***

– Students listen all day, but how often do they really listen?  Use a random generation technique (such as kid’s names on popsicle stick) to choose who will answer questions during read aloud and mini lessons.  This will help you know who is truly listening, and will increase participation from students who don’t usually participate.


– Switch up the questioning.  During read aloud and mini lesson, have students come up with a question of their own for the class, instead of answering a question you have.  (Using random generation is good for this and most other strategies.)


-  Have students become “experts” on a piece of the content topic you areanimalbook studying and allow them to interview each other, practicing both speaking and listening.  (For example, each child can learn about one animal in a habitat and then they can fill in a list of questions, or create a book about each of the animals studied.) 

– Create and encourage group projects and centers (literacy and math) where students have a chance to speak and listen to each other – with structured questioning.


– Teach “good listening” skills, including looking at the person in the eye, acknowledging speech with body language etc.  Then, give away small rewards (stickers or tally points) when you observe “good listeners”.


Do you want more TESOL Teaching Tips – check back each Tuesday for more. Also, check out my previous tips:

Teaching Tip #1 – Use Graphics

Teaching Tip #2 – Talk Slowly

Teaching Tip #3 – Let Them Talk

Teaching Tip #4 – Correct, but Don’t Overcorrect

Teaching Tip #5 – Direct Instruct Vocabulary

Teaching Tip #6 – Repeat, repeat, repeat




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About rakisradresources

teacher mother of 3 wife

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