Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Listening comprehension summer course: Links for EFL learners!

Greetings from our summer courses!

For more than a decade our school has organized high school summer courses in various subjects such as English, Swedish, Finnish, Biology, Geography, Health Studies, History, Chemistry and Mathematics. This summer we had 24 courses with approximately 25-35 students per course. Now this is what I call motivation! 

Here in headphone land. Photo thanks to clemsonunivlibrary 

This summer I was in charge of the listening comprehension courses which are one of my favourite ones (well, they all are to be honest). To cut a long story short, the during the two-week-course the students practised for the up-coming national examination. We covered all possible exercise types listed by the National Board of Matriculation Examination. This includes:
  • multiple choice questions both in English or in the language of instruction ie. Finnish or Swedish
  • open questions in English or in the language of instruction
  • a summary based on what you hear
I enjoyed planning and teaching this course. All EFL teachers in Finnish high schools know that it is seldom possible to concentrate on one particular thing but with this course it was possible. The main focus was to improve students' listening skills and expand their vocabularies. The students who took the course were there for this specific reason so clearly they were very motivated and ready to learn.
Our school organised 24 summer courses for high schoolers in June 2015.

We concentrated on one exercise type at a time and students had the opportunity to test different techniques when carrying out the exercises. In addition, we practised previous years' listening comprehension test. The students also had a chance to listen to the tests independently at their own pace. For this purpose the students used their own devices or school's iPads. This received great feedback from them, as they could pause and rewind if necessary and by repetition they could really understand what they heard. In their feedback they also frequently commented how they feel more confident to face the challenging exam now that they are prepared for it and know what to expect.

The national listening comprehension test. You can also find them on the net.

We also used some material on the net. Here are some links with brief descriptions of each site. I think they are great for practising listening skills and expanding vocabulary:
  • LBC 97,3: A talkradio that focuses on everyday news and issues.
  • English Lab: Students can choose the level they want to practise: easy, medium, difficult
  • For students preparing for the Finnish matriculation examination there are also a variety of listening comprehension exercises available. One of the best known is probably abitreenit.

There is an excellent blog for preparing students for the national exam, it also includes a posting on listening skills. Studying this was one piece of homework in our listening course (the blog is in Finnish). Additionally, if students wanted to practise test-related vocabulary, they could do that with the help of Quizlet

After these intensive courses it feels great to start the summer holidays!
Wishing you all a lovely summer! See you again in the autumn!

Have a relaxing summer!

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