Practical tools, activities, and resources
to guide instruction

Instruction - Listening Comprehension

Activities By Proficiency Level

For students at lower proficiency levels (SPLs 0–3), listening comprehension practice can focus on listening and identifying, following directions, asking and answering basic questions related to immediate needs, indicating level of comprehension, and targeted listening for particular language features. For example, have students do the following:

  • Use pictures and flashcards to identify vocabulary words
  • Listen and select, draw, perform, or write a response
  • Describe pictures to determine what is the same/different
  • Follow two- or three-step instructions to complete a simple task or put a series of pictures in order
  • Practice with numbers that sound similar (e.g., 13/30, 15/50)
  • Practice simple phrases to ask for clarification or repetition at work
  • Complete cloze dictations by listening for specific information/words in a sentence
  • Listen for intonation and stress in a sentence or question
  • Show understanding through gestures and simple responses

For students at higher proficiency levels (SPLs 4–8), listening comprehension practice can focus on listening and summarizing, listening to extended speech, responding appropriately, retelling stories, and building vocabulary to increase comprehension on a variety of topics. For example, have students do the following:

  • Listen to a conversation or story and then summarize the main points
  • Ask appropriate follow-up questions based on previously asked questions
  • Gradually increase the number of details to listen for in an extended speech sample
  • Listen for specific information over the telephone or in a recorded message
  • Identify information from reported speech
  • Listen to speech samples from television, radio, video, and the Internet on a variety of topics with related vocabulary development exercises
  • Determine meaning from idioms and phrasal verbs commonly used in conversation
  • Listen and understand rapid, colloquial, or regional speech
  • Distinguish between descriptions of comparing and contrasting
  • Respond to reduced speech and linked words (e.g., “Do you want to go to the store?” becoming “Wanna go-duh thuh store?”)
  • Make predictions and inferences from available information and context clues
  • Recognize and respond to the use of pragmatic speech acts (i.e., “Do you have a watch?” in order to ask someone for the time)
  • Identify the main idea, supporting details, and concluding idea in a speech sample

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