The common approach to listening and reading is as follows:
- pre-teach the key vocabulary
- set the scene
- give a reason for listening/reading, set the task
- listen for general gist
- listen for detail
- proceed to either grammar analysis or a general discussion.
While generally being common-sensical and more or less effective, this approach lacks a very important, to my mind, stage I ALWAYS employ with VERY BENEFICIAL results –
THE POLISHING-UP stage.
After we have listened/read the text (dialogue) 2-3 times and understood the bits of it – the key structures, the new words, the problem expressions and complicated ideas – that is, when we have listened/read for detail (possibly read the script to leave no blanks) – we SIT BACK, RELAX AND LISTEN AGAIN to enjoy 90-100% understanding – or read the text anew simply for enjoyment.
The text now becomes a whole. Ideas stand out, not problem words. The students have a very enjoyable experience of fully understanding a foreign text without struggling. This results – according to the feedback from many learners I taught – in a feeling of achievement and confidence.
These are 3 keys to better learning:
- the key to mastering the language is a transition from the scattered bits of it – words, expressions and grammar patterns – to whole texts/discourses.
- the key to better listening /reading comprehension is teaching students to read/listen “fluently”, without stumbling upon complicacies and struggling with difficult things. This now easy reading provides the necessary exposure to comprehensible language – key to developing speaking.
- the key to learner success is the feeling of achievement, understanding – and the resulting confidence and security.