Pictures of Listening

Nick_Dawsons Nick Dawson

“I prefer radio. The pictures are better.”
There are two sides to listening comprehension: recognizing the words in a stream of sound and creating the picture from the meaning of those words. Recognition is easier than production so we can start by asking students to recognize pictures.

Describing pictures
The teacher chooses a picture from the textbook which contains several people. The teacher describes one of the people in the picture. The teacher’s description starts with simple information. “This person is young.” Gradually, the teacher’s description becomes more specific. “She’s a young girl. She’s got short hair. She’s wearing a yellow blouse. She’s looking unhappy.” As the teacher adds detail to the description, students begin to target the person the teacher is describing.

If we want to go beyond describing people, we can choose a double page spread from the textbook which contains many different pictures. The teacher’s description will start with statements which may refer to three or four pictures. Gradually, as the teacher adds detail to the description, students get closer to identifying the chosen picture.

If you like, you may choose to show the students a page from a shopping catalog which contains many different items. You may choose a page showing gardening equipment. Your description will start from a general statement. Gradually, as you add details of color, material, price, etc. students will begin to target the item you are describing. If you choose a page which only contains handbags, your spoken description will need to be very detailed before students can identify the handbag you have chosen.

As you can see, the students’ level of comprehension is challenged by the complexity of the picture and your description. Continue reading