Archive for the ‘Teaching Listening EVO’ Category

I thought I need to organize all EVO-related links – I’ll be adding links to this post.

The session syllabus.
A summary of three articles that heavily influenced the design of the session.

Week 1 (main focus: autonomous listening)

TED talks for autonomous listening: ten activities shared by the participants

Week 2 (main focus: traditional lesson framework and its application to authentic materials)

Authentic listening with lower levels: possible and highly recommended – experiences shared by the participants

Week 4 (main focus: listening decoding; features of connected speech)

Features of connected speech -for each feature, there’s a short description, a video and a TubeQuizard quiz that gives some examples of the feature in unscripted speech

Using Aegisub to work on listening decoding skills: a video tutorial

Week 5 (main focus: practical activities for teaching listening decoding skills)

Webinar recording – in this live session we looked at a range of listening decoding activities and software tools that allow the teacher to create such activities ‘on the fly’, and discussed how to incorporate this work into a traditional listening lesson and into the syllabus.

An annotated list of activities, lesson snippets and resources targeting listening decoding


Here’s one more quick post with materials from last year’s EVO session on Teaching Listening.

In my experience, a lot of teachers who set out to target listening decoding skills are very insecure about helping the learners to analyze the actual pronunciation in the audio they’re working with. This is why during the EVO session on teaching listening we briefly looked at features of connected speech. I realize that a lot of the readers of my blog are quite familiar with these features, but I thought it would be very handy to have all of these links in one place that I can refer people to, especially since good descriptions outlining these features come and go.

We looked at the following features:

  • elision and the glottal stop
  • weak forms and the schwa
  • assimilation
  • catenation (also known as consonant-vowel linking)
  • intrusive /w/, /j/ and /r/

Each feature includes

  • a brief description
  • videos explaining the features (mainly from the excellent BBC Tim’s pronunciation workshop series)
  • a TubeQuizard quiz that allows you to hear the feature in natural speech


Connected speech part 1: elision and the glottal stop


Elision is the loss of a phoneme. For example

next week may sound like nexweek
and I may sound like anI

Elision most commonly happens to /t/ and /d/ sounds at the end of a word.

Glottal stop

Glottal stop is the sound that you make when you ‘cut off’ the sound in your throat. This sound often replaces the sound /t/, e.g. before the sound /b/ in the sentence Could you give me that book?

Complete the following tasks:

1) Watch the following video to listen to examples with the glottal stop
2) Do an interactive quiz in order to listen to elision and replacement of ‘t’ with the glottal stop in authentic speech.

Connected speech part 2: weak forms and a schwa

schwa is a weak sound that occurs e.g. in the first and last syllables of computer‘. It’s always unstressed and it often occurs in articles, prepositions, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs (so-called function words) when they are unstressed, even if their dictionary form contains a different vowel.

For example, in fast speech words like can‘, ‘but‘, ‘there’s may sound more like cn‘, ‘bt‘, ‘thz‘. This ‘reduced’ pronunciation is known as the weak form of function words. You can find a very useful table that outlines weak forms for function verbs here.

Complete the following tasks:

1) Watch the following video to hear the schwa and some examples of weak forms
2) Do a quiz in order to listen to further examples of weak forms in authentic speech.

Connected speech part 3: assimilation

Assimilation happens when a sound changes because of the sound that is pronounced before or after.

For example,
this shirt may sound like thish_shirt
because you may sound like becauzhyou

In these examples, /s/ and /z/ at the end of a word assimilate to /ʃ/ (sh) and /ʒ/ (zh) because the next word starts with the /ʃ/ (sh) and /j/ sounds, respectively. 

Sounds can also combine to form a new one, e.g.
would you may sound like wouja (in this case /d/ and /j/ merge into /dʒ/).

Complete the following task:

Do a quiz in order to listen to weak forms in an authentic recording:

  • part 1 (merging of /d/ and /j/ into /dʒ/)
  • part 2 (assimilation of /z/ to /ʒ/).
Connected speech part 4: catenation (also known as consonant-vowel linking)

When a word ends in a vowel sound and the next word begins with a vowel sound, often speakers add an extra sound between the word to help pronounce them.


China and Japan may sound like China rand Japan (intrusive /r/)
I am 
may sound like I yam
Go on
 may sound like Go won

Complete the following tasks:

1) Watch the videos below
2) Do a quiz in order to listen to further examples of intrusive /w/ in authentic speech.


What next? 

If some of this material was new for you, you could consolidate it by doing the following task:

Analyze features of connected speech in an authentic recording of your choice

Find a Youtube video that you would like to work with your learners. Choose a 5-10 second extract and create a YouTube link that will only play the extract by adding the start and end (in seconds) to the URL, like this:

Identify pronunciation features in the extract that are likely to cause decoding problems for L2 listeners and share the link with your analysis in the discussion area below. Here’s an example:

Video: (up to 00:20).

Transcript: At any given point, there’s always something wrong. Because there’s just too many things going on.

At_any (consonant-vowel catenation) given point th[ere]’s (weak form, sounds more like /ðəz/ with a very weak schwa to me) always something (assomilation: ng sounds like /n/) wrong. Cause (weak form, /kəz/) th[ere]’s (weak form again) j[u]s[t] (weak form – schwa, elision of /t/: /dʒəs/) too many things going_on (consonant-vowel catenation).

NB: If the extract you’ve analyzed is longer than 10 seconds, it’s better to split it into several short extracts, each one with a separate link, to make it easier for other participants to replay and analyze.

Technology tip 1: use or an online IPA typewriter to type the phonetic transcription, if you need it.

Technology tip 2: you can use a very simple tool called ytCropper to isolate and put on loop the extract that you chose. This will make it a lot easier for you and other participants to analyze the recording. Sample cropped extract:

Feel free to share your analysis in the comments to this post and explore other people’s  analysis.


As a follow-up to yesterday’s post (the recording of a webinar on Practical activities for teaching listening decoding skills, which was part of last year’s Electronic Village Online session on teaching listening), here are some links to activities that I collected for the session participants. These were meant as highly practical resources that could help the session participants to try out listening decoding in class. There are three sections:

  • activities that could be adapted to a wide range of listening texts
  • video extracts from lessons
  • materials and excerpts from published books that you could try out.

practical activities

SECTION A: activities that could be adapted to a wide range of listening texts

1. Fast speech frustrations by Olya Sergeeva (ET professional issue 112, September 2017)

Olya Sergeeva describes the lesson procedure that she uses in her Authentic listening courses with learners at B1 level and higher. The procedure could be used with any subtitled video stored locally on your computer, a TED talk or a subtitled YouTube video.

If you’re interested in this approach, you can also see a recording of a full lesson and sample materials in sections B and C.

2. Helping students become more effective listeners by Annie McDonald (the audio files to try out the activities are here).

Annie McDonald describes six activities that require little preparation and can be used with coursebook or authentic texts (files Decoding activities.pdf and the audio files). Activities iii.2 and iii.3 can be used with audio concordancing software (e.g. TubeQuizard or Aegisub). 

3. and Listening Discrimination by Anthony Schmidt

Anthony Schmidt describes a grammar listening discrimination activity that he created using playphrase.mean audio concordancing service that uses snippets from TV shows. The blog post includes a PowerPoint with listening files downloaded from and a worksheet that can be tried out in class. Anthony’s PowerPoint activity is for B2 levels, but the activity can be adapted to all levels.

4. Catch the sound by Michael Grinberg

Michael Grinberg describes a listening activity that could be used with any audio or video, provided that you have a transcript. There’s no preparation required, but you’ll need software that allows to isolate and play short extracts from the video (such as Aegisub).

If you’re interested in Michael’s approach and want find out more about the research behind this activity, please feel free to get in touch with him here.

5. Teaching grammar through listening by Gianfranco Conti (especially activities 2.1, 2.3 and 2.4)

6. Micro-listening tasks you may not be using often enough in your lessons by Gianfranco Conti

Gianfranco Conti describes some micro-listening activities that he likes to use with beginner students. 

7. Look through sample units in coursebooks produced by Sheila Thorn to get more ideas for listening decoding tasks (unfortunately, the audio files for these activities are not available).
Link 1: sample units for elementary, intermediate and advanced books in the Real Lives Real Listening series.
Link 2: sample units from another book produced in collaboration with Richard Cauldwell (scroll down to Writing project with Richard Cauldwell of Speech in Action).


SECTION B: videos of teachers demonstrating listening decoding work in class

1. A video lesson (30 minutes) in which Rachael Roberts demonstrates working on intrusive w, j and r.
The lesson comes from Nagivate Pre-Intermediate (B1) coursebook (Oxford University Press).
If you like the lesson and want to try it out with your learners, you’ll find the link to the materials in SECTION C.

2. A video (13 minutes) in which Mark Rooney demonstrates how listening decoding diagnostics and training could be introduced into any listening lesson through a few simple tweaks.

3. A lesson snippet (6 minutes) in which Julia Galichanina helps learners (B1+) analyze the speaker’s pronunciation in an authentic listening extract.
In this lesson extract,
(1) the teachers uses Aegisub to play one sentence from the video. The learners listen to the sentence several times and try to fill the gaps in the transcript
(2) the teacher elicits all learners’ ideas and boards them
(3) the teacher tells the learners the answers, and then replays the extract for the learners to analyze how the words in the gap were actually pronounced by the speaker;
(4) after this, the procedure is repeated with the next sentence.

4. A lesson (90 minutes) by Olya Sergeeva

This lesson was an introduction into listening decoding for this group of learners, who had never done this kind of work before. This particular group is Upper-Intermediate (B1+), but Olya has also done the same procedure (with different videos) with B1 groups.

If you want to try this out, the materials are in SECTION C and Olya’s article about this approach is in  SECTION A. 


SECTION C: materials (e.g. coursebook samples) that you can try out with your learners

1. A lesson (levels: strong B1 and higher) by Olya Sergeeva designed to raise the learners’ awareness of features of connected speech and the role they have in listening. The material is based on a subtitled YouTube interview and includes TubeQuizard quizzes.

2. A sample lesson from Navigate Pre-Intermediate (B1) by Rachael Roberts (free but registration required).

3. During his live session in Week 4, Richard Cauldwell spoke about and demonstrated a classroom activity ‘Jungle Listening: Survival Tip No. 10‘. Here you can download the Student’s book, Teacher’s book, and Audio for all ten units in these materials. Level: B1.

If you use Survival Tip no. 10 – or any of the other nine tips – in class, do get in touch with Richard to let him know how it went. You don’t have to be polite! If you do not like the materials, say why (it will be helpful for Richard). Also, if you like them, say why (which will also be helpfuul to Richard!)

4. A sample lesson on decoding weak forms of function words (levels: B1-B2) from Authentic Listening Resource Pack by Marck Hancock and Annie McDonald.

5. Pronunciation as a listening skill by Mark Hancock is a collection of awareness raising activities that could be used at a range of levels. Also, explore the site with fun materials created by him and Annie McDonald. Don’t miss Hay Chewed and the classic, The Word Blender.

6. TubeQuizard offers a selection of YouTube-based listening decoding activities. You can use the selection of ready-made quizzes or create quizzes based on any subtitled YouTube videos. Find a 12-minute tutorial here.


I hope you find this useful – if you think I’m missing a good resource, could you share the link?