I’ve mentioned before on this blog that for those of my listening lessons in which the learners focus on decoding skills (i.e. transcribe part of the text and then actively analyze the speakers’ actual pronunciation), I vastly prefer to work with video and subs stored locally on my computer, because this allows me to use Aegisub to replay any word or phrase I wish. In my experience, hearing words in isolation makes it significantly easier for the learners to hear their actual pronunciation – the weak forms, elision, catenation and all the other features of connected speech.
I’ve just learned that This American Life, one of my favourite radio shows, has implemented a similar feature on their site.
If you click on ‘CUT THIS’, this opens up the transcript, where you can select any portion of the text and play it with word precision.
The transcript is also searchable and long, so for instance if the learners couldn’t catch ‘used to’ from the first listen, there are eight more examples in this transcript alone for them to listen to and train catching (I normally turn this into a separate activity that follows the diagnostic transcription activity).
Not only this, they’ve also made it possible to share the snippet on social media or even to download it perfectly legally, e.g. if you want to create a listening gapfill (like this really nice listening discrimination activity by Anthony Schmidt).
And the best bit is that the listening material itself on This American Life is usually amazing – great human interest stories that a lot of teachers use anyway regardless of technology. Can’t wait to show this to my learners!