Last week I had a post about my lexis LSA in Delta module 2. Since I believe that was a successful post and it got some good feedback, I decided to write about another LSA that I enjoyed doing.
During module two, each candidate has two choose two skills and two systems to write about in a background essay and to give a lesson that is either observed by a tutor or the external assessor. I chose, in order, grammar, listening, speaking and lexis. I started with grammar as I thought that would be the easiest thing to work with and finished with lexis as I think that is my strong suit.
That left me with two skill assignments for LSAs 2 and 3. I chose to work with FCE listening tasks and used the same B2+ group from LSA4. I received a distinction for the BE and a merit for the lesson, which is explained below.
The main aim of the lesson was to raise students’ awareness of top-down and bottom-up listening strategies in order to cope with the FCE Listening paper part 2. I choose to work with the FCE because that is the most popular Cambridge exam at the school where I worked and part 2 is a task my students tend to struggle with (being the only part of the exam where they need to listen to exact words). I also wanted to work on pronunciation sub-skills (such as catenation and assimilation), as pronunciation work is something I still need to get better at.
Something else that was interesting about this lesson was that I decided to use an adapted test-teach-test approach. Although the TTT approach is traditionally used for language presentation I believe it is also well suited for a listening lesson focused on sub-skills. The idea was that in the first test stage, I would be actually testing students’ knowledge of listening strategies and sub-skills, rather than their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. The same is true for the following teach and test stages.
I started things off with students doing an FCE part 2 listening task under exam conditions. Students were allowed to discuss their answers in pairs at the end, but couldn’t change them. This first task was Teach 1 and would serve as a benchmark for the rest of the lesson.
The Teach part included a questionnaire of how they approached listening activities (e.g. do you try to understand every word or the general context) and also what kind of information can be extracted from exam rubrics.
What I think worked particularly well, however, was a dictation-like activity using sentences from a different FCE part 2 task. I started by asking them to look at the rubrics and brainstorm the kind of information they might expect to hear.
You’ll hear six sentences from an interview with Elizabeth Holmes about her experience working as a volunteer in Africa and her life after coming back to England. Then students listened to the sentences and needed to write them down.
Five sentences might have been too many. I was able to work on the linking sounds, but If I had chosen to focus on three, for example, there would have been more time to work on sentence stress.
The last part of the lesson was another FCE listening part 2 task under exam conditions. After the task, we discussed as a whole class how they approached the listening and if this one was easier than the first one. We also went over which question was the most difficult and why.
I also asked students if they thought these strategies could be used in real life listening situations. This could be a double-edged sword if their answer is no, but my students came through for me and came up with some interesting examples of how the strategies discussed could prove useful. One student in particular, though, was resistant to use the strategies and that proved good material for the post lesson reflection and evaluation.
Finally, if you are interested in sitting for the Delta, I highly recommend buying a copy of Damian Williams’ book (How to Pass Delta) and visiting Sandy Millin’s blog. Both of these helped me tremendously.
Thanks for reading.