Polishing things up – the indispensable stage.

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 –


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.

One comment on “Polishing things up – the indispensable stage.

  1. […] edited variant aloud and “with emotion” so the visual-kinestetic memory works. This polishes things up. Follow that up with a make-your-own-sentences exercise or a similar semi-creative thing, then use […]

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