Due to my own difficulties with it, listening has become the latest field of TESOL I am most interested in. It is my favorite class to teach and I tend to read more articles related to listening, teaching listening, and pronunciation than any other type. I just finished “Listening Myths” by Steven Brown and just gave a well-received presentation on intensive and extensive listening with listening journals. Needless to say, I am passionate about listening.
Teaching listening is by no means easy. Neither is finding something to listen to. When searching for a listening text, you have to consider many things. Any random video from YouTube just won’t work. Among the things you have to consider are:
- level – is it at or slightly above your students present level?
- topic – is it a topic that is interesting or they have the necessary background for?
- speed – is it too fast or too slow?
- accent – is it an accent you want students to be familiar with?
- vocabulary – does it contain vocabulary they are likely to know or does it contain field-specific vocabulary they probably won’t know?
- transcript – does it have a transcript that you can exploit?
- length – is it too long or too short?
- purpose – does the video need to serve a specific listening focus, such as containing lots of connected speech, or being an academic lecture conducive for note-taking practice?
So, with all these in mind, where can you find high-quality and useful listening material. Below, I offer some of my favorite websites from which to source listening. Can you add any more? Please leave a comment!
Authentic Listening Sources
- TED – interesting videos, subtitles, and transcripts.
- 5-Minute Lectures – University of Wisconsin-Madison short lecture series, no transcripts, unfortunatley.
- MIT OpenCourseWare – MIT lectures with video! Several even have transcripts and subtitles.
- RSA Animates – interesting lectures accompanied with really cool visual whiteboard art. Most have transcripts.
- Ignite – Short 5-minute lectures. No transcripts.
- Podbay – a site that links to hundreds of popular podcasts
ESL Listening Sources
- LyricsTraining – awesome music-based gap-fill game
- News in Levels – world news stories told in three levels of English
- BreakingNewsEnglish – world news stories told in several levels of English, at different speeds, and sometimes with different accents
- FluentU – Short videos with interactive subtitles (they include picture vocab), transcripts, and vocab exercises
- EnglishCentral – Short videos with listening, vocabulary, and speaking exercises.
- ESL Podcasts – This is an actually an article linking to 12 different ESL podcasts. My students prefer ESL podcasts to authentic ones, for what are probably obvious reasons.
YouTube Channels and Videos
- PBS Idea Channel – very fast, but very interesting
- Conversations with my 2-Year Old – funny series of videos
- Celebrities Read Mean Tweets – A series of videos from Jimmy Kimmel that are hilarious
- 9 YouTube Channels for Learning English – article with links to ESL YouTube channels
- The Argument Clinic – great video to teach negation, argument, contrastive stress
- My Blackberry Is Not Working – great video for puns
- Weird Things All Couples Fight About – great video to practice listening and passive-aggressive complaining
- The World’s Toughest Job – a tearjerker that all students will enjoy
Finally, not for students, but a reminder about how difficult listening in a second language is: