Jun 22

Ideas to Get More Out of Listening Transcripts

teaching language skills

Using Transcripts in Your Classroom

If you think you could be exploiting the listening texts in your coursebook better- you're probably right!! Try these five ideas out for size.

Video transcript

Do you ever feel like you’re not exploiting the listening activities in your class as well as you could be? Do you ever even LOOK at the transcripts in the back of your coursebook? They can be a great resource for supporting listening but also speaking, grammar and vocabulary development and more. Want five ideas to get you started? Keep watching.

Hi- I’m Jo Gakonga, I’ve been teaching English for over 30 years and training teachers on CELTA and MA TESOL programmes for over 20 of those. I’ve also got a website at ELT-Training.com where I make material to help English language teachers at all stages of their careers. If you like this, like and subscribe- I make a new video every week.

OK- I promised you five ideas- let’s go.

#1: Scaffolding for Success
Listening is notoriously difficult for learners- the language is there and then it’s gone. It’s tricky so a transcript can really help.
You do need to be clear in your head about your aims and focus on the transcript SUPPORTING the listening and not just REPLACING it entirely, but how about this? Set the listening task up and play the recording the first time. Now give the learners the transcript to let them check their comprehension and maybe notice anything that they DIDN’T hear or notice and underline those points. You could do this with just part of the listening if it’s a longer one. Maybe the beginning part? Now let them listen through again a second time and ask them to listen for those underlined parts.

#2: Pre-Listening Power Up
If you want to take things a step further, you could use a tool like ChatGPT or Gemini to generate a short summary of the listening passage. Just copy and paste the transcript and give the AI a prompt to summarise it in a set number of words- maybe 100? Give your learners this preview before they listen and ask them to predict what else will be in the listening. This kind of prediction will give them a context for the listening and set them up for a more successful listening experience.

#3: Flash Flashcards
Next idea- Transcripts are gold mines for vocabulary building. After you’ve finished with the listening part of the lesson, you can upload the transcript to Quizlet to identify key words for you and make them into flashcards (there’s a video about how to do this here), or if you want a bit more control, you can identify the vocabulary you want to highlight from the listening and import that to make flashcards. It’s really quick and easy to do. Remember that it’s not only single words here that are important- chunks, phrases and collocations are also really useful. With Quizlet you could have activities in the class, or better, I think, give them the link to the card set so they can practise at home.

#4: Grammar Games
Want some useful grammar practice as a post listening task? Transcripts are perfect for this! Try using an extract of the transcript- I wouldn’t use it all- and make a gap fill from it. You could focus on articles or prepositions, or verb tenses, for example. Lift these out (you can do that with AI, too) and get learners to predict the gaps and listen to check. It’s a great way to reinforce these kinds of grammar rules in a more engaging way.

#5: Shadowing
Last idea- listening texts can be used as a way to improve pronunciation too using Shadow Reading techniques. Display a small part of the transcript and play the recording of it. Learners silently follow along the first time and you could highlight any weak forms or connected speech. Now play that small part again and they speak along with the recording mimicking the speaker's intonation and rhythm. If they’re all doing it together kind of under their breath it makes it less embarrassing and it a great way to improve fluency, intonation and sentence stress. If you give them the link to the recording, they can also practise this at home, too.

I hope those ideas help. Aim to try even one of them the next time you do a listening in class and let me know how you get on in the comments. Have fun with it!

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